Shining Lights

Being able to travel the world is a privilege we never take for granted. And we know you, our YPA family, feel the same way. That’s why we search high and low for travel partners that are as committed to sustainability and community upliftment as they are to luxury experiences and natural wonders.

A perfect example, particularly in a month where the world is celebrating International Women’s Day, is the Great Plains Foundation’s Solar Mamas Program. It’s an inspiring initiative that is shining a bright light on clean energy and uplifting the communities championing it.

The global energy crisis is a cause that is close to many of our hearts, so when a solution like Solar Mamas paves the way for solar innovation, gender equality and women entrepreneurship, it’s no surprise that several of our YPA clients have shown such generous enthusiasm for the program.

What is Solar Mamas all about?

The Great Plains Foundation is a US 501(c)3 organization, working closely with their conservation-tourism parent company, Great Plains Conservation, to conserve and expand natural habitats in Africa and uplift the environment, wildlife, and local communities. 

Five years ago, Great Plains had a bright idea: to sponsor nine ‘Solar Mamas’ to leave their villages in Botswana to attend a five-month solar power training program in India. They returned home with invaluable skills and were soon installing and maintaining solar home lighting systems, running businesses and providing sustainable energy for their communities.

Not only is electricity a natural deterrent to wildlife in this game-dense area, but solar electricity is a safer and more sustainable energy source than paraffin, candles, or firewood. The current phase of the project is focused on supplying equipment for the Solar Mamas to electrify 950 rural households in their remote communities bordering the Okavango Delta, helping thousands of people.

The Solar Mamas program is unique in its ability to conserve wildlife, but also uplift women, increase community-wide education and facilitate economic activity after dark. As the Solar Mamas beneficiaries themselves will testify, it’s changing lives and conserving one of Africa’s most beautiful deltas.

Late-night learning

“I am a teacher for children and the elderly, and I can see the benefits in school of the kids who have a solar system.” – Mantaga, Seronga Village

Safety and security

“When I came back from charging my phone, I would find that perhaps someone had stolen the battery or used my phone while it was charging. Now I know it is safe and I can work while it charges.” – Nxhae, Gudigwa Village

Comradery and community

“The solar system has changed our lives. We are now safely able to charge our phones and also our speakers, so we can enjoy music together! Many people are benefiting from this system, even with one panel we can help many people as the system is so good. We can leave the lights on outside for security all night and it still doesn’t go flat.” – Tsholofelo, Eretsha Village

Keeping wildlife safely at bay

“I live on the outskirts of town where the town meets the bush. The lights are helpful for keeping elephants away. They don’t like the light and avoid coming too close.” – Solar Mamas beneficiary, Seronga Village

How can you help share the love (and light)?

If you’d like to help give the Solar Mamas power, please consider a donation. Any amount can make a difference, and every $250 collected helps purchase and ship a solar household lighting unit. Click here for donation information.

Be inspired!

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