By Morgan Hannah Pettersson
In February 2017, Cyclone Dineo hit the coast of Mozambique. MMF’s global headquarters is based in Tofo which is situated in the Inhambane Province, one of the worst affected areas. For the local communities who live predominantly in traditional grass thatched houses, the cyclone was a terrifying ordeal. Many families lost their homes, their possessions and their livelihoods.
MMF is fortunate to be partnered with illumination, an Australian based solar energy company. Illumination has a program called ‘Give Power’ where for every solar light purchased, they give one to a person in need in a developing nation.
Since 2015, illumination have donated 500 solar lights to our education program. The majority have been distributed to our Nemos Pequenos graduates following completion of the 20-week integrated marine conservation, swim and water safety program. Ocean Ambassadors and community members which are part of our Sustainable Seas Program have also benefited from these life-changing lights.
Many families in the wider Tofo community are not connected to the main power lines and rely on kerosene lamps to illuminate their homes after dark. These lamps are extremely dangerous. They easily catch alight if knocked over and their fumes are harmful to human health. Illumination’s solar lights offer a safer, more sustainable option, and one that will last for many years to come.
With wind speeds during Cyclone Dineo hitting 130km/h, most homes were badly damaged or completely destroyed. In the wake of the cyclone, members of our education team worked alongside volunteers to reach out to the local communities and distribute 94 lights.
The damage we saw while visiting the communities was shocking. Houses were literally blown away, those left standing no longer had roofs and countless cashew trees were uprooted. For many communities cashew trees form their sustenance livelihood and to have the trees destroyed makes them now more reliant than ever on the ocean to support their families.
All of the families who received the lights were really receptive to the idea of using solar energy. The MMF education staff explained in detail how solar energy works and gave a demonstration of how to use the lights. As the team walked away we could see the bright orange of the solar light gleaming in the hands of each family.
On day two of handing out the solar lights, we were overjoyed to see glints of orange around the community. Their new owners had placed them in the sun to charge, ready to light up once darkness fell. Seeing the lights actually being used made the sadness of the cyclone devastation a little bit easier to bare.
If you would like to find out more about our awesome partnership with illumination and help us to bring more light to the communities where we work, click here.