, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 28 – Evans Wadongo has one in 10 chances to be CNN’s hero for 2010, after being shortlisted from a larger list of 25 possible heroes last week.
He was initially chosen late last year for his solar lanterns initiative – His heroism has been placed under the category, Young Wonder.
Here is his story:
He is a 23-years-old who lives in Buruburu, without a steady job and comes by very little money.
But he sleeps late everyday and puts every extra penny he has into a project for people much poorer than him. People who cannot afford to buy kerosene lamps to light their homes.
Wadongo’s humble efforts came from a determined decision to see Kenyans lift themselves out of poverty.
Using his expertise and about $25 (Sh2,025) per lamp, Wadongo began building solar lanterns for people in remote areas with no access to electricity.
“People there really suffer. They earn less than Sh100 a day. It’s not enough to buy food and kerosene for the lamp. So these lamps are really beneficial.”
And he is a living example of their suffering, even though his home in Buruburu now gets electricity from the Kenya Power and Lighting Company.
“The kerosene lamps let out a lot of smoke. After using it too much while growing up, I developed problems with my eyesight.”
Evans is short-sighted, something he had to get glasses for. But the constant pain in his eyes, has been harder to get rid of.
“It\’s getting really bad and I hope I can get to perform some surgery on them soon.”
Evans works full time for an organisation called Sustainable Development For All. They first came on board to support his initiative in 2005 and together they have managed to supply more than 14,200 solar lanterns since.
“My goal is to have supplied 100,000 lanterns by the year 2015. We are about to start pilot projects out of the country too, places like Uganda and South Sudan – the really remote areas,” he explains.
“And it’s easy to operate. You charge it for three hours, and then it lasts up to six hours. Even for the old grandmother, it is very simple to use.”
Evans studied engineering at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, with the main intent of using his skill as a tool to solve the problems that surrounded him as he grew up.
“My family are very supportive. I got many offers from different companies after they saw the work that I was doing. But I turned them down. At first people did not understand, but they soon came to understand that I was determined in my cause. Now they support me.”
“I am grateful to have been nominated. Now I wish Kenyans would vote for me to win the award. It can really make a difference in the lives of many people,” he told Capital Lifestyle.
Video courtesy of CNN.