Solar Powered Backpacks Aiding Schoolchildren in Developing Countries

| By Editorial Team

Garbage + Solar Energy = Better Educated Schoolchildren

Repurpose is a non-profit organization that is helping to provide a renewable energy source for some of the poorest South African communities. Their solar powered backpacks are giving children the ability to generate their own electricity – power that will keep the lights on at home when they need to study.

Repurpose distributes school bags fitted with solar panels to children in poor areas. As the children walk to school each morning, their backpacks not only carry their books, they also collect the energy needed to power a small lamp for up to 12 hours – light that lets them do their homework at night.

Generating energy is only one benefit of these school bags.

  • The backpacks are made out of recycled plastic bags.
  • They’re fitted with reflective material, so children walking along busy roads are more visible to motorists.
  • Just having a good-quality backpack to carry their books to school is something many children can be proud of.
  • In many homes, the alternative is using kerosene lanterns that are dangerous, toxic and expensive. Instead, the energy generated by the solar panels is renewable and clean, as well as free.

Repurpose is able to provide these school bags to so many children because of generous giving partners who also get something back. New backpack owners can write letters and even send video messages to donors – just one more benefit of a charity’s seemingly-simple idea.

repurpose backpacksMany of us use devices like solar cell phone chargers and solar-powered fans to make our lives easier. Children’s backpacks fitted with solar panels serve a purpose that goes beyond convenience. What if we asked ourselves where else applying technology that we already take for granted would have such a dramatic effect on quality of life?

South Africa is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa, but that has provided little relief for a legion of other problems facing children and their families in poor areas. Thousands of schools have no running water or electricity. Most have no library, let alone a laboratory in which to teach children about science. Challenges like these will keep yet another generation of children in poverty.

Let’s start a movement. There is obviously an endless need for even the simplest designs like the solar backpack. Send us your ideas. Who knows where they might lead.