Surrey students bringing solar-powered light to
rural Ghana so youth can study at night
As part of their coursework for a sociology class at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Peter Vo, Andrew Suitner, Alise Scott, Kerri Chistensen and Andrews Owusu are building portable solar-powered lanterns that will be taken to rural villages in Ghana this summer.
Working late is no problem for these five, but in Ghana, where villages can experience blackouts that last for several days, finishing homework is a luxury many people don’t have.
“[Light] is one of those resources that we take for granted out here,” Suitner said.
The idea for the lanterns came suddenly for Kwantlen instructor Charles Quist-Adade, who knows firsthand the struggles of being a young student in Ghana. Quist-Adade grew up in Ghana working in the cocoa fields of a small community.
“I experienced the difficulties of studying in the night,” he said. “Sometimes I would come home late and you’d have two kerosene lamps in the village and sometimes I would be using one to do my homework and somebody would come and borrow it and would never return it.”
Quist-Adade had no way to finish his homework and would often be lashed the next day at school.
“If I had these lights I would have been a genius. I was always reading – if I’d had something like this in the night I would have read until dawn,” he said.
After coming to Canada, Quist-Adade made several trips back to his home country but was shocked to see conditions had not changed over the past 30 years. This prompted him to take action and moreover it was a perfect opportunity to get his students involved, too.
Students at Kwantlen began building the home-made lanterns in September and will be taking them to several villages in central Ghana as part of a three-week field school, starting on June 29. They will also be raising money to provide needy students with school supplies and scholarships. An instruction book with detailed photos will also be provided, as well as some supplies and training for students in Ghana to build their own lanterns.
But the project doesn’t stop there. Quist-Adade has plans to conduct a three-to five-year ethnographic study that will track the academic progress of the students who receive the lanterns. He also hopes to be able to expand the field school to other countries such as Haiti and Sierra Leone.
He quotes Kwame Nkruma, the first president of Ghana, as he describes his philosophy toward the project and teaching.
“‘Knowledge for knowledge’s sake is not good enough,’” he said. “Theory without practice is blind, and practice without theory is empty, so what I do is I give my students an opportunity to translate the theoretical knowledge in to practical – especially to help the helpless,” said Quist-Adade.
Students will be hosting a workshop at Kwantlen on Thursday at 2 p.m. to finish the final lantern and raise money for scholarships and other charitable donations.
For more on the project and to find out what you can do to help, visit www.quist-adade.com.
© Copyright (c) Surrey Now