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Solar for Syria Campaign Kickstarts One Refugee Tent at a Time

Today, WakaWaka launches the Solar for Syria campaign. For each WakaWaka solar device you buy, one is donated to a Syrian refugee family.

Written by Paulette van Ommen Published on Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Twenty-five thousand WakaWaka Powers have already been provided. This enables more than an estimated 100,000 refugees to safely see, study, move about, cook, read and gather after darkness without risking tent fires as a result of kerosene lights. The solar-powered devices also allow refugees to charge their mobile phones.

The International Rescue Committee, the official partner of the campaign, surveyed 321 families. More than 80 percent said they were “very satisfied” and use it on a daily basis. Refugee families report that the WakaWakas increase family safety, decrease the kerosene smoke in the tent at night, save money, prove helpful when doing daily tasks and enable communications. The device comes in two versions: WakaWakaLight (16 hours of light) and WakaWakaPower (40 hours of light, and a phone charging port).

Being part of a World Economic Forum community of nearly 3,000 young leaders in hundreds of cities called “Global Shapers,” I gathered a group of 20 Shapers to seek endorsement for the campaign. We are joining forces with VIPs and influential people by raising awareness via their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Kofi Annan, former U.N. secretary-general, was among the first movers to post a WakaWaka photo and campaign endorsement on his social media accounts. Others include Domenico Quirico, an Italian reporter who was freed after a 150-day kidnap. Esmee Denters, who previously made it to the Oprah show thanks to her YouTube success, recorded this song.

Other organizations, including UNHCR, recently requested WakaWaka to send thousands of devices to the Philippines. It has been interesting to see the wide gap in media attention for the Philippine natural disaster and the Syrian war. The public doesn’t seem to care as much about the latter. Meanwhile, millions of refugees – including many children – are facing one of the coldest winters since the start of the Syrian war.

I’ve been infatuated with WakaWaka’s mission since its start in 2010. It was one of the top 1% of most successfully crowdfunded projects on Kickstarter, receiving crowdfunding of more than $700,000 from thousands of crowd funders. WakaWaka is partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative and has won multiple Accenture Innovation Awards. The devices are produced by a social enterprise called Offgrid Solutions and have been tested by Intertek as the best in class. The “buy one, give one” campaigns are run by the WakaWaka Foundation. WakaWaka, Swahili for “shine bright,” makes a great gift. They have proven to be an asset to outdoor enthusiasts, commuters and those suffering from frequent power outages anywhere in the world.

The various Global Shapers working on the campaign are looking to revive global attention of the broader public. In times of lowering public trust in large aid organizations, and increased appetite for enlightened self-interest, joining the Solar for Syria campaign might be a solution for many.

Still looking for a holiday gift with real, tangible impact? Get your own WakaWaka, and by doing so, donate one. Let’s kickstart one refugee tent at a time.

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