By: T. Felder
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/19/22 – – Keith Kirkwood grew up wanting to make a change in his community. That longing, topped with his entrepreneurial skillset, led him to co-creating the Gift Global Initiative — an NGO dedicated to alleviating human suffering through social impact.
Most recently, the NGO launched a new Sports for Solar initiative, which aims to bring both public and private sectors together to incorporate sports with renewable energy. After spending time in Soweto, South Africa, and observing the harsh living conditions, Gift Global decided to take action by presenting solar power to the community.
THT had the chance to catch up with Kirkwood and discuss this initiative in more detail, as well as climate change, Saudi Arabia, and their initiative with Ukraine.
THT: Can you tell us about Gift Global Initiative?
KK: GIFT Global Initiative is a humanitarian organization advocating for and empowering the most disadvantaged and vulnerable families, in some of the poorest areas of the planet. Our mission is to strengthen the family unit which would allow the children to have a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm.
We focus on preventing the root cause of exploitation and poverty rather than a focus on reacting to these causes. Some examples include; education for all, access to portable solar energy, clean water, sanitation, healthcare for all, and employment opportunities.
THT: Can you tell us about the Sports for Solar Initiative?
KK: We put together Sports events where children from low-income areas compete as a team to win. At the end of the tournament, which typically lasts an entire day, all participants go home with portable solar lights, bringing light to their household for the first time.
The children we serve struggle to access opportunities. Removing one obstacle alone is not enough. And there’s no better way to inspire kids and set positive role models than getting them involved in sports. Socially conscious and generous brands like tennis giant Babolat see the value of Sports for Solar. Together, we not only enlighten communities, but also introduce and promote sports such as tennis and soccer, which could benefit from harnessing extraordinary talent in poor communities.
In February 2020, in partnership with the UAE embassy in Pretoria, we completed a successful Soccer for the Sun tournament in the Elias Motsoaledi settlement in Soweto, South Africa, home to approximately 4,000 families living in extreme poverty without sanitation or electricity. The water looks dirty, and the streets are covered in feces. It is not at all unusual that children see tourists walking around his squatter every day, because for about 23 euros, tourists are allowed to glimpse the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who live in small huts along dirt roads covered with plastic bags. filled with excrement. called “flight toilets”, as one travel agency explains on its website. Most tourists never come back. Connecting Lunn to the power grid was very time consuming and expensive. The Sports for the Sun event in February brought sunlight to half the community. Today, young girls and boys can study longer, train team sports and soccer, women can travel safely, small businesses can operate longer, there are fewer fires due to avoiding candles, wood, kerosene, and climate change.
We are sure that the Sport for the Sun initiative can initiate sustainable development in underdeveloped communities and thus reduce poverty. This unique combination of public and private partnerships could herald better prospects for other economically disadvantaged parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
We encourage corporate brands and government embassies to join us on this unique journey to light 50,000 households in some of the harshest places on our planet. For embassies, this great diplomatic initiative bridges the gap between your host country and home country by using sport to create peace and strengthen relations between countries. There is no better way for companies to increase shareholder value than through socially conscious PR and building brand loyalty through social impact campaigns like Sports for Solar.
THT: GIFT Global Initiative strengthens communities around the world. Why is the Clean Energy/Solar Initiative so important?
KK: GIFT Global Initiative, which annually benefits more than 10,000 children in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the United States, has launched the Global Clean Energy Initiative, which aims to provide 50,000 households with affordable, portable solar power over the next two years. An UN-backed initiative to fight poverty. Our clean energy initiative expands access to affordable, sustainable, and portable solar lamps to poor communities in 12 African countries (South Africa, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Kingdom of Lesotho, Malawi, Uganda, Ghana, and Zimbabwe)., Kenya); four South Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Nepal); Mexico and the United States.
Instead of importing lights, our portable solar lights are produced locally, bringing education and jobs to many underserved communities. Women can travel safely, work longer hours, children study longer, small businesses stay open longer, and fires caused by candles and wood are reduced.
Our clean energy initiative can initiate sustainable development of underdeveloped communities and thereby reduce poverty. For example, in Soweto, right in the heart of Johannesburg, until recently there were no basic services – such as schools, health centers or even electricity – connecting the shacks to the electricity network would be very time-consuming and expensive. Our partnership with the UAE Embassy in Pretoria looks set to transform Soweto’s outlook and boost sustainability for thousands of people in a matter of months and may herald better prospects for other economically disadvantaged people. Likewise in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Portable solar lights have a low initial cost, require little maintenance, and do not involve the risk of using energy sources such as kerosene, wood, and candles. Solar energy products can soon solve both fuel poverty and energy efficiency. Solar lanterns could replace kerosene lighting, still used by about 500 million households, which would reduce emissions, helping to reduce climate change and indoor air pollution.
THT: Where can our readers find you?
Overall, Kirkwood and his team hope to eradicate fraud by making diplomacy more pleasurable.