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Published
April 18, 2017

Ruth Milliken, Dunelm Energy, speaking at Scotland Lights up Malawi celebration 21 Feb 2017

Building Blocks

Education is a powerful force – for good

Ruth Milliken works for Dunelm Energy and is the Fundraising Coordinator for Scotland Lights up Malawi. She has worked with the project from the very start – concentrating on  fundraising and business engagement as well as providing overall organisational and management support. Last year Ruth had the opportunity to travel to Malawi with SolarAid to meet and visit with some of the people and organisations in Malawi who have benefited from the project. Below Ruth shares her thoughts on just how powerful the shared journey for climate justice and education is.

I am not sure about you – but I am like a moth to a flame when it comes to a Mandela quote. Indeed, I even have one printed on my kitchen wall!

Nelson Mandela, was a great man and a leader who saw needs in our world and wasn’t afraid to play his part. Equipped with an abundance of compassion, determination and wisdom, his words are still speaking truth and accountability in our world today.

The thought-provoking and impactful words, “overcoming poverty is not an act of charity but an act of justice” from Mandela were the closing note to the Scotland Lights up Malawi celebration event held in February. Since that time of showcasing and thanksgiving, I have been reflecting on Phase 1 of the project. On its continuation and a number of other projects all addressing various shortcomings in our world, whether they be (gender) equality, injustice, health, schooling, energy or many other issues that affect people in varying degrees.

This reminds me not to downplay the fundamental building blocks in life that some people still very much lack. One such block is education. We all know about this, but, perhaps like me, you too sometimes lose sight of its significance and what it means for those without it. Lack of education can mean limitation and the consequences of that lack intertwine with so many things. We must not underestimate what education offers the future – when it is available.

Mandela said – “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

A powerful weapon yes, one that has an incredible potential and value in bringing about significant change for good. Education gives access, ability and opportunity. It can steer us to better understanding, it can finely tune our moral compass, and it can help us develop skills and abilities to meet any challenge. It can give us the tools to distinguish the very difference between right and wrong.

I think most of us agree that education can enable people, whatever their circumstances, with a greater chance of overcoming adversity, injustice, and poverty. With enablement comes responsibility. When that responsibility is recognised, ignorance is diminished and that transformation can provide freedom, hope and a future.

In Phase 1 of Scotland Lights up Malawi, we saw Keep Scotland Beautiful share climate justice education in our own society by empowering Scottish young people to understand and act on some of the many aspects of climate justice. Glasgow Caledonian University enabled us to provide greater impact with their research. And Scottish businesses provided financial support to enable SolarAid to share its practical knowledge, products and resources. Which in turn have helped thousands of Malawians start to overcome poverty by educating them about safe, clean energy that is accessible and affordable.

Education on the significance of something as simple as changing kerosene to a solar light unlocks a great transformation, offers freedom and the very first step onto the energy ladder.

I continue to be in the midst of an educational journey myself as we continue work here in Scotland to support SolarAid’s awareness efforts – a responsibility I am honored to have.

Considering the potential of this weapon –  what does education look like to you? At home, in your workplace, in Scotland, or further afield? What can you do to educate or to be educated so as to act justly?

Education, a powerful force for good!