Location: Near Nyamata town, Rwanda

I first met Sonia in October 2009 when she received her Lifelight.  She was shy for her age and wore her best Sunday yellow church dress with frills and lace to the distribution session held at a local community hall. Just barely 14,  she became the head of her household last September when her mother died of TB. Her father died in August.  Sonia looks after her two year old sister, Salah, who clung tightly to Sonia’s leg. Their grandmother, birthed 16 of her own children, is frail but has taken in three other orphaned grandchildren. The Grandmother also looks after Salah during the day, enabling Sonia to remain in school.

We arrived unannounced at Sonia’s small,  two-roomed traditional mud and thatch house in the late afternoon just as the black sky threatened a downpour.  She was using her Lifelight to make schoolwork revisions in her cramped sitting room which is no more than a metre wide and two metres long.  Since having her light, Sonia says that she can study inside day or night and feels much safer as she can see predators like spiders and rats when making her bed.  She also uses the light to walk safely to her grandmother’s house 100 metres away. Sonia told me that her light has become her ‘guardian protector’.

by Kristine Pearson