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Clinton Global Initiative Highlights the Freeplay Foundation as Featured Humanitarian Organization
Date:9/22/2009

NEW YORK, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The Freeplay Foundation announced today that it has been chosen as a featured organization at this week's meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. The Foundation has pledged its intent to integrate the award-winning Freeplay Lifeline radio and new clean energy Lifelight into a program benefiting 20,000 extremely poor women and girls across Rwanda.

Rural women and girls will gain reliable, on-demand access to radio and Internet information and renewable lighting via solar-powered and wind-up Lifeline radios and Lifelights. Participants will be able to access health, literacy and economic development information, as well as agricultural advice and practical life skills information. LED Lifelights provide both focused task illumination and ambient area light. The women and girls will be able to undertake after-dark small businesses such as weaving and beading, and they can study and walk safely at night.

The Honorable James Kimonyo, Republic of Rwanda Ambassador to the United States, champions the Freeplay Foundation's commitment to action.

"The Freeplay Foundation is a proven NGO in Rwanda and I fully support their pledge," said the Ambassador. "Children breathe in toxic fumes and damage their eyes when they study to kerosene lamps and candles. Light is needed in every situation after seven o'clock, and our students will never become properly educated if they can only study under these unhealthy conditions."

The Lifeline radio won the first Tech Museum Award for Technology Benefiting Humanity and is the first radio ever produced specifically for use in humanitarian projects. To date, the Freeplay Foundation and its partners have distributed more than 200,000 Lifelines across Africa, benefiting more than eight million people.

"I have often been told by rural women and girls how humiliated they feel because they lack the most basic information," said Freeplay Foundation CEO Kristine Pearson. "Radio can provide practical knowledge, and lighting can increase success by enabling people to study at night or to extend the hours of their small business. These are highly motivated women and girls, and our renewable energy technology can give a powerful boost as they work to better their lives."

Radio is the primary means of mass communication in sub-Saharan Africa, but often, batteries cost too much for people to buy on an ongoing basis, especially women and girls. Electricity is rarely available. The Freeplay Foundation's Lifeline radio and Lifelights provide energy solutions via proven wind-up and solar-powered technology.

Two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks, the Freeplay Foundation's Ambassador, was the primary funder of the Lifelight and is an ardent supporter of the Lifeline radio.

"The Lifeline radio can change the world - one person, one house, one village at a time," said Mr. Hanks. "The beauty of the Freeplay Foundation is the technology and the immediacy of its mission: to put radios and lights in the hands of people who need them. Lifeline radios can make a positive impact from the moment they are turned on in one of the villages, and I can think of nothing more noble than helping people light their way."

Working mainly in Africa, the Freeplay Foundation enables hundreds of thousands of children to learn English, math, science and life skills through radio distance-learning programs. Coffee farmers learn new planting techniques using Lifeline radios, and people throughout Africa learn how to prevent HIV/AIDS while listening to their Lifelines. Nomadic tribes listen to Lifeline radios as they caravan, and orphaned children - living completely on their own - can grasp a "lifeline" to the outside world when listening.

The new Lifelight is targeted to the extremely poor, including orphaned children, widow and granny-led households, and people who are ill. Fully charged, the Lifelight can illuminate a room at the brightest setting for 6 hours, or can be used as a task (reading, sewing) light for more than 20 hours. The Lifelight converts 74% of kinetic (wind-up) energy into electricity.

The Freeplay Foundation has distributed the Lifelight in Rwanda and South Africa, and will launch a major project in December to support "forgotten" women in Kenya. Additional Lifelight R&D was funded by the U.S.-based Lemelson Foundation.

Learn more at www.freeplayfoundation.org. The Freeplay Foundation is a fund-seeking organization with 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status in the U.S., is a registered charity in the UK, and has Section 21 and 18A non-profit status in South Africa.


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SOURCE Freeplay Foundation
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