Home Education Association
Day of Action Campaign
SolarBuddy and HEA will partner together to educate and empower young philanthropists in sustainable technologies and to make a positive impact on the beautiful planet we live in.
The campaign will involve HEA members fundraising to purchase SolarBuddy lights which will be assembled by HEA students. The assembled solar lights will then be donated to children living in energy poverty, in a country that SolarBuddy works in, chosen by the HEA.
For Home Educating Families
Solar Buddy is an exciting project with a huge impact! HEA has partnered with Solar Buddy to make this accessible to home educated students for the first time.
Each kit contains one light, designed to be assembled by one student. Each student is asked to build a light, and write a letter to the child who will receive the light. There are loads of learning resources that you can use in your homeschool as part of this project.
What’s the timeframe?
Now! November 2020
Sign up to participate or be a local organiser, and fundraising!
Start incorporating some of the lessons into your homeschool.
Early December - HEA will submit order for lights to be delivered to each local organiser
Mid-January 2021 - Kits delivered to local organisers
Mid-January to Mid-February 2021 - Students build kits & write letters. This would make a fantastic "not-back-to-school" event for homeschool groups! Consider inviting the local media, and/or taking photos to share your experience.
What does a local organiser do?
We need members to step up and become a local organiser for their own area.
Contact Mik to let us know that you are organising a group and which area you are in.
Download the sign-up form & promote in your local community
Get home educators to sign up on your form - all home educators welcome, they don’t have to be HEA members! Kits come in batches of 25, so we need to get 25 students signed up!
Send your completed form back to the HEA by November 20, along with your address for delivery of the kits.
Remind people in your group to pay for their kits through our GoFundMe page
Once your kits have arrived (mid-January 2021), either distribute them to those who signed up, or hold an event to build them together in a group.
Have the kits returned to you after they are built, and follow the instructions below to get the lights back to Solar Buddy.
There are not 25 home educated students in my area - how can we be involved
If you are not in contact with your local home-ed community, contact us and we will try to link you with a group. There might be a group already happening near you.
If you live in a geographically isolated area, you can sign up to the isolated students group run by Larissa (who lives on an island!). We will get a kit in the mail to you, and you can return it by mail. The HEA is inclusive on purpose - so we’re going to pay the extra postage costs to make sure everyone can join in.
How do I get the lights back to SolarBuddy?
When you have finished assembling the lights, please pack them back up and fill in the returns form which can be found online: https://solarbuddy.org/request-collection.
The SolarBuddy team will then send through postal labels for you to attach to the bucket and a courier will collect them on a designated day.
We guarantee the lights you build and the letters you write will be in the hands of children in need in a maximum of 3 months from when we collect them from you.
What’s the cost? Any minimum order quantity?
SolarBuddy solar lights which are part of our Education Program cost $32.50 per unit and there is a minimum order quantity of 25 lights.
All orders need to be placed in increments of 25.
Who is SolarBuddy?
SolarBuddy is an Australian registered charity uniting a global community to create a sustainable future for our beautiful life-supporting planet and all who live in it. Through our Education Program, you’ll learn about the 1.4 billion people living in energy poverty and the devastating impact this has on their lives. You’ll be inspired by how a simple solar powered
light can help to improve education outcomes, health, wellbeing and connectivity.
Commencing in June 2016, we set an ambitious goal to gift six million lights by 2030, which coincides with the United Nations (UNs) deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We believe that with your help our dream can be made a reality.
What’s the SolarBuddy Education Program?
SolarBuddy’s Education Program has been specifically designed to combine learning with practical application. It encourages student collaboration, intercultural understanding, creative and critical thinking. It is suitable for children of all ages and has been developed in line with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).
• We Learn about energy poverty, renewable energy and global citizenship
• We Make a solar light and write a personal letter to our buddy
• We Illuminate the lives of children living in energy poverty
The lights you build and the letters you write will be in the hands of children in need in a maximum of 3 months from when we collect them from you. Our program empowers students to embrace affordable, reliable and sustainable solar energy solutions to help transform lives, economies and the planet. We invite your family to join our global community by participating in our empowering program. Our aim is to inspire our global community to act and connect in an ongoing basis.
Why have the students make a solar light?
Our Education Program has been specifically designed to be both informative and practical: a learning activity that’s hands-on and has a real-life impact.
Learning focus areas can include, but are not limited to, STEM, Humanities, Sustainability, Global Citizenship and the program delivery can be student led and/or is suitable for home educators in groups or families.
Is writing the personal letter important?
Yes. Writing a letter to their buddy helps your students understand the purpose, builds empathy and their sense of belonging within the community. During our solar lights distributions, we often see children reading and re-reading their letters; completely spellbound at being connected with children from around the world.
How much time should be allowed to build a solar light and write the letter?
These times are based on classroom programs - so you might need more or less time in your family or group:
Build Solar Lights Write Letters
F- 2 40 minutes (with help) 60 minutes
3-6 30-40 minutes 45 minutes
7-12 20-30 minutes 30 minutes
Is the program aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals?
Absolutely! SolarBuddy has aligned its programs with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. They are a universal call to action by all countries to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change.
Our focus is on combining education with innovation for social good across the SDGs:
• #3 Good Health and Wellbeing
• #4 Quality Education
• #7 Affordable and Clean Energy
• #13 Climate Action
• #17 Partnerships for the Goals
What can you tell me about the SolarBuddy light design?
The SolarBuddy light has been designed with purpose and is delivered to your school in kit form. Printed and online assembly instructions are available and screwdrivers are included in your delivery.
Specifically designed for use by children living in energy poverty, our solar lights are easy to operate, carry and charge.
• Constructed from 40% recycled high UV resistant plastic (highest possible recycled % without distortion)
• Encased in a tough rubber bumper to protect against accidental damage.
• Waterproof - IP65 rated
• The solar LED light is made with a 0.6W solar panel
• 60 Lumen Light Output
• NIMH (rechargeable) batteries
• Overcharge Protection
• Over-Discharge Protection
• Simple battery replacement
• No packaging except yellow shipping containers
Once fully charged, SolarBuddy solar lights provide 8 hours of light on full and 16 hours of light on half beam. To conserve the batteries stores of energy, the lights will only work when they’re not being charged. If you want to view the light during daylight hours you can cover the solar panel with your hand and switch it on.
Our lights have been endorsed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), are used by NGOs from around the world including Australian Aid and is a core item in the UNHCR relief kit.
How many times can the batteries be recharged?
Our batteries are the only major depleting part of the light, recharging 500 times, which based on our market knowledge means a lifespan of 2.5 years.
We have committed to changing the batteries 3 times, every 2.5 years, resulting in the light lasting a child 10 years taking them right through their school years. Our in-country NGO partners conduct battery replacement events, the children learn to change their own battery and we recycle the old batteries via responsible e-waste programs.
What happens to the screwdrivers?
Please put the screwdrivers back in the bucket once you have assembled the lights. We then include them when they are shipped to their final destination which will allow the students to open up the lights and change the batteries when necessary.
What happens to the yellow containers?
The plastic yellow shipping containers are highly valued by the communities we work with and make excellent robust storage containers. You will also see the bucket has a small tap included. This is a water filter and the buckets can be used in developing countries to collect water and filter out impurities.
Are the light design features important?
Yes, very important!
We’ve intentionally humanised our solar lights with eyes, arms and feet so they are more relatable to children unfamiliar with technology. You’ll notice the light has
our holes, one in each corner of the unit. This is an intentional part of the design allowing the child to string twine through the holes and hang it from the ceiling to provide more illumination for their often windowless home. It can be attached to the child’s body whilst
walking, cycling or washing hands and they can also attach it to their school packs for recharging on their walk to and from school.
Can you tell me about the safety aspects of the lights?
Assembling the product only requires a basic screwdriver and there is no risk to injury or shock to the person assembling the product. There is no risk of damaging the product during the assembly process, so long as the instructions are followed.
What does the red light mean?
The flashing red light is to demonstrate the battery is charging via the sun’s rays.
Why doesn’t the light work when I hold it up to a light or a window?
The light will not work in daylight or when there is good artificial light. The solar panel has a sensor to stop the light from working when the panel is exposed to light. We do not want to waste the battery stores by using the light during the day unnecessarily. It also ensures the battery charges faster by not allowing the light to work when the battery is charging by the sun.
What do we do if a light/lights don’t work?
Please ensure the lights are fully charged. It is unlikely, but the wires may have become unattached. Use the screwdriver to open the light up and check the wires are attached. If the light still isn’t working, please make a note and attached to the light and we will do our
best to fix it during our quality control process.
Where will you send the solar lights and letters we make?
Since 2016, we have distributed SolarBuddy solar lights to around 30 countries. From March 2019, we have focused primarily on the following 8 countries but will continue to always assess and deliver to those in greatest need.
• Dominican Republic
• South Africa
Will we receive any information about where the solar lights end up going?
Approximately one month after your lights are distributed you will receive a SolarBuddy Report showing exactly where your lights have been sent. The Report will include photographs of the lights and letters being distributed and include feedback from the recipients. We will also send you any letters we get back from the children who receive your lights.
What has been the in-country impact to date?
Children are spending less time collecting firewood and instead spend more time attending class, preparing for exams and completing homework assignments. Children can play or study after dark and they can visit the outdoor toilets safely.
A recent impact assessment conducted by Kokoda Track Foundation, our NGO partners based in Papua New Guinea, shows that students using a SolarBuddy light were studying
78% longer leading to direct improvements in their education outcomes and families had an up to 80% reduction in their average weekly expenditure on kerosene.
What is our carbon footprint for this project and how can we offset it?
As per the US EPA website, our lights used for 10 years, incorporating our battery e-waste replacement program (every 2.5 years), is the equivalent to planting four trees per light. This means that to-date the SolarBuddy program is responsible for planting the equivalent of more than 102,500 trees.
How can we be sure that this project is not just creating more trash?
Our lights are used by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR ) and Australian Aid (AusAID) and have been designed to withstand the harsh conditions they are used in.
How else can you help SolarBuddy?
We get asked this question a lot and the answer is simple. The best way you can help is to raise awareness about the devastating impact of energy poverty and then help us raise funds.
We’d love you to share our story with other teachers, schools, your friends and family. You can start by following us on Instagram and Facebook. We need passionate people who will also raise money for the solution. You can donate directly at solarbuddy.org or you could
fundraise by requesting donations instead of birthday gifts or by running a marathon or climbing a mountain* – the choice is yours.