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Monitor story earns Kumi’s 112-year man solar power

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A technician installs a solar panel on the roof of the Oitamongs’ house while below Oitamong and his wife Eseza admire the Daily Monitor story that earned them the solar power. PHOTO BY Richard otim 

By Richard Otim

Posted  Sunday, May 18  2014 at  01:00

In Summary

Exposed. The story that profiled Mzee Oitamong ran in the Daily Monitor last year.

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Kumi.

About 2 kilometers east of Kumi Town in the remote village of Otaaba, lives a centenarian who would have never owned a solar lighting kit from his own earnings.

Mzee John Oitamong, 112, lives a simple life, and is not a beggar but when good Samaritans offered to avail him with a solar lighting kit for his house, it only looked to him as a miracle.

The lighting kit which cost about Shs800,000 was donated to him by Village Power after reading a story about him in the Daily Monitor last year.
Village Power is an NGO which strives to develop renewable energy and offer a range of solutions in ensuring social-economic sustainability in rural electrification programmes.

Its headquarters are in Switzerland.
“We delight in giving back to the less privileged elders in communities. Oitamong was selected as a senior citizen who has also lived an exemplary life as a community leader, educator, responsible husband and mentor to emerging young leaders,” said the Marketing Executive Village Power, the Rev Philip Fred Kato.
“God is great. He has heard my prayer at last. At this age I never thought my home would ever have this kind of lighting,” Oitamong said.
He said the family has been spending about Shs200 a day and Shs6,000 a month on paraffin for lighting the locally made lantern.

The solar kit has also enabled the old man to earn a modest income from phone charging services that he now offers his neighbours whom he levies Shs500 every time one charges their phone.

Kumi District LC5 chairpersonIsmail Orot hailed the Daily Monitor for bringing out profiles of such vulnerable members of the community who would not be able to access such facilities on their own.
“The district is very grateful to the Daily Monitor for the story that has helped this old man acquire a solar kit in his house. He can now even earn some small income from the energy system,” Mr Orot said. Oitamong is married to Eseza Alenyo, 82, whom he has been married to for more than 60 years and together they have eight children.

One of his sons serving in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) could only put up a simple two-roomed house that he now enjoys in the comfort of a fully connected solar lighting system.

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