Your Gift Saves Lives
Through YOUR generous support, ACLENet is SO CLOSE to our $16,000 goal, but students like Mary still need your help to make their schools lightning safe. Your gift truly makes a HUGE difference!
Before ACLENet installed a lightning protection system at her school, Mary and her friends would scatter, running away from school to their homes when they saw dark clouds because they had seen their friends and classmates killed by lightning in the classrooms and on the playground. Many of the schools we want to protect have been hit more than once by lightning, with deaths and injuries each time.
How can Mary and other children learn if they are too afraid to attend school? How can parents feel safe sending their children to school if they know they may not be coming home after their school day because they have been injured or killed by lightning?
Newspaper reports and our research show that hundreds of Africans are killed every year by lightning. In contrast, in the US for 2020, there were only 17 deaths from lightning in 330,000,000 people - about one in 20 million people! Our research also shows that children in unprotected schools are particularly vulnerable to lightning injury in Uganda.
One reason for this huge number of deaths in Africa is that there is more lightning in tropical areas than in temperate regions, so there is simply more exposure and more risk than most of us are used to.
Another reason is that 90% of sub-Saharan dwellings are not 'lightning safe,' leaving the entire family at risk of lightning injury 24/7/365 whether they are in school, sleeping in their homes, tending their fields and herds, or walking to market.
In America, Europe and other developed countries, most buildings that we are used to are 'lightning safe' structures because they have plumbing, wiring, and other metal components in the walls which usually intercept the lightning and transfer it harmlessly around anyone inside to the ground. In America, we teach 'When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors' but that doesn't work in Africa where there are few safe places.
Picture of a typical 4 classroom building in Uganda.
The suggested 'donation levels' (feel free to donate other amounts!) explain some of the costs for these three steps. We will be happy to answer your questions about what your money will provide.
As our first step, ACLENet wants to make every child in Uganda, and eventually across Africa, feel safe in their classrooms, knowing they are protected from lightning and secure to learn their lessons. We have already protected six schools and are working on a seventh, Mongoyo, where 3 children were killed and 72 injured in October 2018. We have a donor of materials for an eighth school but design and installation costs still need to be funded.
The second step is to teach the teachers about lightning, how it is formed and how it injures and dispel the many myths and folk beliefs about witches calling lightning down on enemies or that it is a punishment from God for hidden sins like beating your wife or children. We want to give teachers the knowledge and tools to teach lightning safety to the children and other teachers in their schools. We also want to provide the materials that children can learn from and take home to their parents and families to educate them. -- Children are often very good educators of their families!
A third step is to design and broadcast public service announcements (PSA) during prime-time evening news to educate parents and the general public about the dangers of lightning and what they can do to avoid injury. Below is the PSA ACLENet developed in late 2020 that was shown over Christmas week at prime time for Uganda after donations by a few generous patrons allowed us to finish the PSA. Another generous donor has pledged $1000 to help fund broadcasts of a Luganda version, the primary non-English language spoken in Uganda, on television and radio to reach into almost every area of rural Uganda.