The original solar man
John and Mary's story
We first met John and Mary in July 2012. They showed us their home, and explained the three micro-finance loans that they had taken out via Habitat for Humanity. John, the original 'Solar Man' had used his third loan to install solar panels and replace the paraffin that they had previously relied on for electricity. As one of the only families in the village with power, John and Mary were able to offer a phone charging service for their community, a fantastic example of how these loans can provide the tools required for families to become more sustainable and provide a form of income generation.
We returned to Luwero, Uganda in February 2015 to revisit John and Mary. Expecting to see the phone charging business we were really surprised that they were no longing providing this service to the community. Talking to the family however, we were able to see that solar power use in the village has increased. Whilst this takes away a form of income for John and Mary, it is a huge step forward for the community as a whole.
John's fundamental role in the community as a respected chairman and leader has encouraged other community members to come to him and learn about the loans system available through Habitat for Humanity. The electricity provided by the solar power provides television and internet for the family ensuring their children have access to two platforms that will benefit their education. John is a uniting force in helping people to improve their homes and consequently their lives through more stability and home development, bringing people together despite their political differences. He is also responsible for managing the loans and ensuring people make their repayments on time, because of his leadership, the community works together to help build a better future.
John and Mary are incredibly house proud and continue to make improvements to their home, they have recently taken out a fourth Habitat for Humanity loan to build a latrine and indoor kitchen. They have always had big plans for their home and their family and will continue to utilise the microfinance loans system as long as it is viable for them to improve their future.
The above article first published on coinsfoundation.org in 2015.