I recently had the opportunity to go on a homestay in Bungoma, a village in the rural part of western Kenya.
I spent the day following around my guide to learn more about the lifestyle of your average farmer. In many households, families depend on kerosene lamps which can be dim and fuel consuming. We were on a project to study the use of solar lamps.
Some of our learnings were that:
- For women in the household, light provided a sense of security. Having a sustainable light source while walking around outside, it affords protection and discourages robbers.
- For children, it represented a future, as they were able to study for longer hours with a light source in the house.
- For men, it represented status, as light in a household meant protection for the family, as well as a luxury to posess.
One thing I had not expected to discover was the particular dynamics that are created due to the availability of light. When the evening hit, the whole family gathered around the one solar lamp. As the only light source, wherever the lamp went, the family went. In a way, the limited source of light physically brought together the family.
The availability and quantity of light can have a major impact on family dynamics. Can the scarcity of light give more quality of life? Because the family is forced to closer physical proximity, the relationships between members can be more intimate due to the added amount of time spent together. Rather than leaving to work, study and relax in separate rooms of the house, everyone must stick together.