LUPITA Nyong’o the Kenyan born actress who starred in the blockbuster movie 12 Years a slave in 2013 has thrown her weight behind a campaign in rural Kenya and Uganda to provide school children with solar charged LED lights to study and do homework.
The project, which involves the distribution of the theSoular Backpack to children is the brain child of 23-year-old Salima Visram who grew up in Kenya and witnessed children in nearby villages forgo their education because they lacked access to electricity.
Visram created the first 2,500 backpacks after successfully raising $500,000 through crowdfunding and has already distributed hundreds of units which use of solar panels to charge the LED lights students can use at night. For every hour spent in the sun with their backpacks, students get 5 hours of light from the lamp.
Lupita said her involvement in the Soular Backpack distribution event in the Katwe, region of Uganda this week — a place where only 20 percent of the population has access to electricity, had underlined the practicality of the lights.
“I think this project has the power to change the world and I would like to see it move worldwide,” Lupita said. “To see children take charge of their education and be able to support themselves in this very, very simple and practical way, I think is extremely powerful. Because when you give a child that kind of illumination, they can excel better in school because they have the power to educate themselves.”
Furthermore, Lupita said she felt compelled to get involved when she heard about the backpacks last year after filming Queen of Katwe.
12 Years a Slave for which Lupita received the Best Supporting Actress award was voted the best film of 2013 by several media outlets. It was a huge box office success, earning over $187 million on a production budget of $22 million. The film also made Steve McQueen the first black film director to have directed a Best Picture winner.