Burning in the Sun
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Burning in the Sun
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Earth Focus: Solar Power

When there are chores to be done during the day and it's dark in the evening, children find it difficult to learn. But Malian entrepreneur Daniele Dembele is bringing electricity to remote rural areas, so local schools can light their classrooms long into the night.

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Directed and produced by Cambria Martlow and Morgan Robinson.

Learn more about the full-length documentary "Burning in the Sun."

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.


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Segment 1

Banko Village, Mali
AMADOU COULIBALY [School Principal]
I have 300 students, and the graduation rate is close to 20 percent.
JENEBOU [Student]
When we go to school, our parents have no one to help with chores. They pull us out because there's no one to work in the house.
We are now approaching the exam period. In the nighttime, we give classes. And, with one or two lamps, it is difficult to see the blackboard.
DANIELE DEMBELE [Owner, Afriq-Power]
Over here in Mali, 80 percent of the villages, they don't have ... they have no light. It's even not 80 percent, it's 99 percent. Here, we're talking about natural selection. The environment you are living in is really tough. So, to survive we've got to be tough. My name is Daniel Dembele. This project is about building some solar panels in Mali, with local material. To make it as cheap as we possibly can. And we can try to make it possible for villagers to buy it. My final purpose would be to have a business in this field. Why should I not make money helping my people also? This we can make in Mali. This also. The back you can assemble, if I teach you how to do it manually.
RICHARD KOMP [Director, Skyheat Associates]
So, we will make a 30-watt panel out of these.
First panel made in Mali?
These are the very first PV [photovoltaic] modules ever made in West Africa, as far as we know.
Electricity was invented more than a century ago. And, for me, it's just inconceivable to think that there are still places in the world that they are not able to have electricity. I think that it's becoming a right.
Look over there, what is happening over there. You're going to see the difference. Over there they've got the fire. You can see, there's a kind of light over there. That's the old way to get light. That's the new way.
If you're educated, you can do things an uneducated person cannot. If you're educated, you could help develop your village.
I count on helping thousands of people, not just 10 or 20 villages. If God's willing I live long enough, I would like to make a lot of villages every year, so I'm talking about thousands of people every year. Maybe at the end of my life I could tell you I've been helping over 100,000 people in this country: building wells, building solar power installations, solar cookers, and all the stuff. My main goal is help them and make my life.
Before Banko's school had electricity, every year 20 percent of students passed their national exams. After Daniel installed lights, 97 percent passed. Today, Daniel's business, Afriq-Power, continues to electrify schools and health centers in rural Mali.
From the documentary film "Burning in the Sun"