As Callaway County residents struggle to find that perfect present for their loved ones, the Rwanda Community Partnership is asking they consider the gift of giving this holiday season.
The partnership once again is offering some alternative gift options to benefit several projects in Callaway's sister community of Kibungo, Rwanda.
According to partnership founder Bob Hansen, of particular importance this year is an effort to help primary school students further their education.
The Bright Light Campaign provides solar study lamps to students in the primary sixth grade level who do not have electricity so they can study at night.
"This is the critical year just before they take the national exams, and the national exams determine whether they will go on to secondary school," Hansen said.
He said for students in rural areas without electricity, the only other options for light at night are either a candle or a kerosene lamp - which is often too costly as well as giving off harmful fumes.
"Students in remote areas don't have the luxury of studying at night," Hansen said. "We're trying, in a way, to even the playing field by giving them more opportunities to read."
He said the Rwanda Community Partnership is forming a pilot program for the Bright Light Campaign with the Gshanda Primary School, which is located across the road from the Gshanda Health Clinic that was built through the partnership.
Gshanda Primary has two sixth grade-level classes with 50 students in each class. Hansen said the partnership wants to commit to providing 100 of the lamps - which run on solar power - each year. The cost of each lamp is $11.
He said students will not just be given the lights - they will have to earn them by performing community service at the school and throughout the community.