Lurgan ladies light up Zambian girls’ lives

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Lurgan Lights

Thirty-five women from Northern Ireland have come together to light up the lives of girls in Zambia – by buying solar lamps.

The Lurgan Lights project is the brainchild of Jillian Patchett – President of the Lurgan Branch of Soroptimist International, which is a global movement of business and professional women that shares Camfed’s aspirations to educate and empower girls and young women around the world.

Lurgan Lights was born when Jillian listened to Camfed’s Founder and President Ann Cotton speaking at a Soroptomist International conference in Brighton. Jillian was inspired to take action as she heard about the long distances many girls in rural Africa have to walk to get to school each day. Often it’s already dark by the time these girls have made the long trek home after their lessons. Without electricity, they don’t even have enough light to do their homework.

I was always reading books as a child and getting caught with a torch under the covers, says Jillian. If I hadn’t been able to read as a child, I don’t know what I’d have done. That image of girls not being able to read their books really stayed with me. I kept thinking about it.

Jillian got in touch with Camfed to find out how she could help – and that’s when the touch paper for the Lurgan Lights project was truly lit.

Over the next three years, the Lurgan Soroptimists are planning to raise enough money to buy 671 lights for girls across rural Zambia – that’s one light for every one of Camfed’s partner schools in Zambia.

Our goal is to change as many lives as possible, says Jillian. Each light changes a life.

Huge thanks to Jillian and her fellow Soroptimists from Lurgan, who have so far raised enough money to buy 47 solar lights – lighting up the lives of one whole classroom full of girls in rural Zambia. With enough light to do their homework, these girls will now have more chance to flourish at school – and to reap the full benefits of their education.

Education removed a blanket of darkness from my face such that I can now see very well.

Lucia Punungwe, one of the first girls to be supported through school by Camfed

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