Flight Centre and Beyoncé, along with thousands of small solar lights and many more big-hearted people, came together earlier this month at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg to do something truly transformational.
On Saturday, December 1st, the solar lanterns were distributed to eight schools in Botshabelo, South Africa and coincided the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, taking place the following day on Sunday, December 2nd.
The Global Citizen Festival started in 2012 to celebrate worldwide philanthropy and to galvanize world leaders in addressing global issues and the festival commemorates what would have been the 100th birthday of the great Nelson Mandela, who shone a light on injustices within his country, and the world.
The festival called on world leaders to critically address poverty, with this year’s event highlighting the legacy of the host nation’s former leader, Nelson Mandela.
The solar lanterns were distributed to eight schools in Botshabelo, South Africa, a town that was created during apartheid and still suffers from high levels of economic and educational inequality.
Without electricity, like many in the region, the people of Botshabelo rely on dangerous fuels such as kerosene and firewood for light when the sun sets. The burden to search out these fuels is tasked to women and children, taking young people out of school and causing indoor pollution, therefore continuing the poverty cycle.
Children fortunate enough to be enrolled in school still must inhale toxic kerosene fumes, not to mention are at risk of damaging fires. The challenges to study at night dramatically limit their chances at a better, brighter future.
SolarBuddy is an Australian-based charity that donates and distributes solar-powered lights to children across the globe who live with no electricity. SolarBuddy was the brainchild of Simon Doble, who, on a camping trip in Queensland, thought of the millions of refugees forced into complete blackness when the sun sets. Doble invented the small, square solar-powered unit which provides light for up to 16 hours.
Throughout the year at key events, Flight Centre Travel Group employees worldwide assembled the solar-powered, LED lights. In addition to the completed SolarBuddy lanterns, FCTG staff penned personal letters with words of encouragement to the young recipients, ranging from educational insights to their own personal plights.
This year’s event was inspired by his teachings and is a tribute to what Mandela achieved and conquered in his life. The entertainment lineup included Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, among notable South African musical guests.
Along with these celebrities of song, there were many unsung heroes in attendance, including a Flight Centre delegate. FCTG held a recent competition with its employees and chose a staff member, Marc Peacock who demonstrated how he was “living” FCTG’s commitment to corporate social responsibility. The competition prize was a ticket to the Mandela100 Festival plus the opportunity to be a part of the SolarBuddy light delivery.
Follow Marc’s journey…
“Education is a basic human right and we are proud to be partnering with the Flight Centre Foundation, Global Citizen and Adopt-a-School SA who are helping us to achieve our mission to provide safe, reliable, effective and innovative solar energy solutions to communities who suffer from the limiting effects of energy poverty.” – Simon Doble, Founder & CEO of SolarBuddy
To date, SolarBuddy has delivered 63,000 lights to 21 countries, improving more than 320,000 young lives with brighter futures.
FCTG is proud to have been on the journey from construction to delivery of the lights and you can join them and improve the life of a child who has no access to electricity, helping them fuel their dreams. For more information head to solarbuddy.org.au
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Nelson Mandela