SolarBuddy project gives light to needy

23 May 2017

Students studying General Education at Community College Gippsland are helping to spread the gift of light to poor communities with a novel SolarBuddy project.

The students have been researching renewable energy as part of a learning enquiry and have taken their learning a step further by assembling small solar lights that will be distributed to communities overseas who live without safe and reliable electricity.

Community College Gippsland, CGEA Trainer, Shar McMillan, said the students were assembling the small Solar Buddy units in class which includes an integrated solar panel that can run up to 10 hours.

CCG General Education students assemble solarbuddy lights photo Karyn O'Brien

CCG General Education students assemble the SolarBuddy lights at Warragul. From left: Ron Back Junior, Rose Johnston and Brian McGee. Photography by Karyn O'Brien.

“The mini solar lights are then distributed to aid agencies in developing countries through the Solar Buddy project which is an Australian charity project,” she said.

“It has been a terrific activity for the students because in addition to leaning about energy-poverty and renewable energy, the students feel they are contributing to improving other people’s lives.”

Student Brian McGee said he loved the concept because the unit required zero maintenance and charged itself in the sun.

Rose Johnson said she couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live without light.

“If these solar buddy units can help make people’s lives a bit safer then that’s a great thing.”

Ron Back Junior said he felt good knowing that he was able to help one person at a time in a small community who would be otherwise without light at night.

Shar McMillan said the SolarBuddy lights and a personal letter from the students would be sent to communities in Africa.

“It feels good to know that our small class in Warragul can make a big difference to other people’s lives and other young people who don’t have the luxury of light at night to study or to walk safely outside.”

SolarBuddy is an Australian registered charity and can be found at:

For more information on Community College Gippsland’s General Education programs which help people improve literacy, numeracy and computer skills go to: courses/category/general_education

CCG Solarbuddy project close up photo Karyn O'Brien

CCG Solar buddy project light and instructions - photo Karyn O'Brien


For further information, please phone (03) 5622 6000 or email