Currently, much of rural Zambia relies on kerosene lanterns for light, and only 14% of rural areas are electrified. Kerosene can often be unsafe and is expensive, sometimes costing $5 a kiloWatt hour. Skip the Grid is working in rural Zambia to create scalable community-based energy models with solar energy. This will include building local capacity for renewable energy economic development through training in solar system installation, operations, and maintenance.

Read more about Zambia.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange

In 2018, BJ Allen, received the Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange.

This reciprocal exchange allowed her to travel to Zambia to collaborate with Muzalema Mwanza, a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow with experience in solar, rural communities and mentoring young girls.


Together they brought mobile solar suitcases for hospital midwives, installed a solar vaccine fridge, met incredible people, made great partnerships, developed the solar workforce in Mundulundulu Village, Siavonga, in Zambia and were reminded of the power of solar to make a difference.

Read more stories about the trip below.

Nurse samuel

Part of the Mandela Fellow Washington Reciprocal Exchange Program 

Meet Samuel Matapa, Samuel serves as a nurse and nurse midwife in Manchavmya, a rural health care facility in Zambia. BJ and Muzalema had the honor of meeting this gentleman on their trip to Zambia through theMandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Reciprocal Exchange Program.

Samuel often must travel to remote homes when a mother is unable to come to the health care facility for the delivery. During this time he must depend on his cell phone for all light while traveling. Although his clinic has a modest solar energy system for some lighting and other electrical needs, the unit will be invaluable for augmenting their capacity and traveling to even more remote home.

To the left is a picture of Samuel holding one of the portable solar generators. He no longer needs to solely rely on his phone for his travels and when delivering babies from remote locations. The smile on his face gives you a glimpse of the amount of appreciation he showed towards BJ and the Safe Motherhood Alliance for delivering these solar suitcases.

Thank you to all who made this project a success! Especially Exchange Programs - U.S. Department of StateYoung African Leaders Initiative Network, and U.S. Department of State. We couldn't do this work without your support.



Part of the Mandela Fellow Washington Reciprocal Exchange Program 

Rural health care facilities can only provide the essential service of giving vaccines to the population if it has the means of storing the vaccines in refrigerators and maintaining the “cold chain”. During her trip to Zambia, BJ had the chance to meet Nurse Matthews. A nurse that had no means to store vaccinations and was therefore not providing critical vaccines, such as tetanus, to newborns and mothers.

Ironically, in his possession at the clinic was a solar vaccine fridge, solar panels and some of the necessary hardware to complete the installation. Although it had been delivered years ago, it was merely taking up space in the critical health care facility.

With a generous dose of improvisation and creativity, the RREAL team and its partners at the Ministry of Health in Siavonga were able to scrape together the tools and necessary parts to put the essential appliance in to service.

Upon our departure in the afternoon on Friday, October 12th, the refrigerator was online and in service! This additional outcome was unintended, but a testament to the power of collaboration, creativity and sheer will.

As a result of this partnership and training, the electrician at the Ministry of Health’s Siavonga Public Hospital has now traveled throughout his region and installed five more solar vaccine fridges since RREAL’s departure. Newborns and the broader community will now be able to receive critical vaccines.

Project with Dept. of State Mandela Fellow Muzalema Mwana


© 2019 by RREAL

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