Updated: Apr 6, 2021
Did you know over one billion people across the globe have either little or no access to electricity? Growing up in a small village in Njoro, Kenya, this was a daily part of life for two young students until two years ago. Only juniors in high school at the time, Teresia Mwema and Hannah Wambui researched and developed ways to bring an alternative, sustainable form of electricity to their community. With support from mentors, including Morris Thuku and Peter Mokaya Tabichi, Mwema and Wambui used organic materials and dead radio batteries to create power for light bulbs and cell phone charge.
The conversation to visit Chattanooga initially began this past spring when the PEF Innovation Hub started to coordinate with Morris, Mwema, and Wambui about speaking to students in Hamilton County's VW eLabs about their story. Earlier this week, Mwema and Wambiu had the opportunity to share their experience with students at STEM School Chattanooga. Both women, who met in school, shared their personal stories of struggles, challenges, and achievements while growing up in Njoro. As children, walking barefoot for seven miles through hills and rocks to fetch five gallons of water was a normal routine for these ladies. “Many times, we went to school on an empty stomach,” shared Wambui, “making it difficult to concentrate in class.” The young women also walked several miles to school each day, causing them to leave as early as 3AM to make it to school on time.