...SMALL CAN BE BEAUTIFUL (S.E.L.F. BRINGS SOLAR TO THE DARKNESS, WINS KING’S AWARD)
King Hussein Leadership Prize Presented to Robert Freling of the Solar Electric Light Fund; Award Honors Leader's Transformative Impact on Environment
March 27, 2009 (AScribe Newswire)
Robert A. Freling, Executive Director of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) was awarded the 2008 Leadership Prize from Jordan’s King Hussein Foundation.
The prize is awarded annually for exceptional humanitarian leadership in sustainable development, human rights, equity, and peace.
The award-winning Mr. Freling. (click to enlarge)
Freling was recognized for the work SELF does bringing solar electricity to people living off the grid and without power in the remote rural villages of the developing world.
The Foundation described SELF’s work, ongoing since 1990 in 18 nations, as "inspiring and honorable." SELF is based in Washington, D.C., and works to “end global poverty” and uses “clean, renewable electricity” to improve “the health, education and welfare of the two billion people living in energy poverty.” It has sustainable projects in places like Benin, Brazil, China, India, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Freling has been with SELF since 1994 and has been Executive Director since 1997. He has overseen solar energy applications to power drip irrigation in Benin, telemedicine in the Amazon rainforest, vaccine refrigeration in Rwanda, online distance learning in South Africa, and microenterprise development in Nigeria. The result is a comprehensive, whole-village approach that SELF calls its Solar Integrated Development model.
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The King Hussein Foundation, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization, was founded in 1999. It honors His Late Majesty King Hussein's memory with this annual prize recognizing extraordinary contributions.
Previous winners: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), and microloan Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus.
Villagers in Benin, West Africa, install a solar powered drip irrigation system. From solarfund via YouTube.
The installation of solar panels in remote locations attacks the energy poverty at the core of a whole host of developing world ills. And solar energy delivers power that makes possible a whole host of good things, things many in remote rural locations consider wonders, things Jordan’s Queen Noor called “basic rights” in presenting the award.
The cornerstone of SELF's "whole-village" approach. (click to enlarge)
The solar energy-generated electricity can be used to run purification systems that clean the limited, compromised water supplies of rural people in emerging nations.
The solar energy-generated electricity can drive irrigation systems that make it possible to grow food in barren soil for hungry people.
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The solar energy-generated electricity can also be stored in batteries that accompany many of the single-panel off-grid installations. The battery power can then be used at night to power lamps by which children who work all day can learn to read.
The same lamps make it possible for adults to work at night at tasks like sewing or machine repairs to supplement their incomes and move toward a small degree of financial empowerment.
The solar energy-generated electricity is also used to run SELF-provided computers with wireless Internet access so that no location is too remote to be connected to the wider world.
Finally, solar energy-generated electricity can power small health clinics where vital care, delivered at urgent moments, can alleviate needless agony, save lives and sustain families.
CNN took a look at SELF’s work in Nigeria. From solarnow2007 via YouTube
- Her Majesty Queen Noor, presenting the award: "Robert Freling is a visionary leader working at the intersection of environmental stewardship and sustainable human development, whose work has had a transformative impact on the quality of life, opportunity, and the security and stability of communities around the world. SELF helps whole villages leapfrog from no reliable energy to affordable, green power that in turn provides access to other basic rights - clean water, education, healthcare and economic empowerment. Bob's commitment and determination to abolish energy poverty around the globe embodies the humanitarian vision and indomitable spirit of King Hussein that we celebrate with this award."
- Robert Freling, Executive Director, S.E.L.F.: "To be recognized by the King Hussein Foundation for my work with SELF is an extraordinary honor. This award validates our commitment to providing sustainable energy as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty and generating light and hope in some of the poorest, most marginalized parts of the world. Access to electricity, as an absolute prerequisite for development, has a vital role to play in the securing of peace, equality, and human rights for all."
- Steven L. Swig, board of directors chair, SELF: "I believe fervently in SELF's mission to bring clean, renewable energy to the developing world, and I am so pleased that Bob's dedicated and visionary leadership has been recognized in this exceptional way."