Tanzanian priest, Father Godfrey Biseko, and I invited catechists and village
leaders to come for supper and see our electric lights for the first time.
Maryknoll Lay Missioner John Lazure had just installed two solar panels on the
roof of our rectory in Iramba, Tanzania. At dusk we turned on the fluorescent
lights. Bright “sunshine” lit up every room. “Now we can break all our old
kerosene lamps,” Godfrey laughingly exclaimed. About an hour later the two main
fluorescent lights blinked and cut to half power. Slowly the lights dimmed and
then went off completely.
Twenty-five adults sat in pitch darkness, not sure of what to say. Finally,
everyone laughed. We ate supper by kerosene light—as we had done for so many
years. Our departing guests said politely, “Father, the lights were very
nice.” Later Lazure explained that a single day of sunlight provides only a few
hours of battery power. After a few days of bright sunshine, we invited the
catechists and village leaders back again. This time the solar-powered lights
worked all evening.