International Relations Office
By Melissa Low, Graduate Student, M.Sc. Environmental Management
School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore
Global Sunrise is a project-based charity looking to bring reliable, clean and free electricity to poor communities around the world. This is my story on how Global Sunrise came to be, and how you might be able to make a contribution!
Majoring in Geography at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at NUS from 2006-2010 exposed me to environmental issues early on in my university life. At the end of my third year in 2009, I applied for the Universitas 21 Summer School Program at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, offered by the International Relations Office at NUS. The program focused on “Climate Change Adaptation: Designing our global and national responses to climate change”.
The Summer School brought together motivated and proactive young scholars from various countries to focus on some of the many areas impacted by climate change: water and energy; biodiversity and agriculture; human health, settlements and infrastructure; social cohesion; as well as economic wellbeing. Four other NUS friends and I attended lectures and open discussions, participated in debates and were taken on field trips to several amazing natural sites in Queensland Australia. It was in Brisbane that I discovered that I had internalized the message of climate change and wanted to do more to help.
Where it all began - Universitas 21 Summer School Program at the University of Queensland, Brisbane
Upon my return to Singapore, a few of our newly made friends from the UK, Australia and Canada wrote to us, keen to set up a non-profit organisation targeting to aid poor communities in the world secure access to energy. I took the leap and signed on as a Singapore coordinator. Through Skype calls spanning four different time zones over several months, we formed a team consisting of seven members based in four different countries. We also developed a strategy and gradually expanded our network to include university partners and charities.
As a full-time Energy Analyst now at the Energy Studies Institute at NUS, my role as Singapore coordinator is to help profile the countries and communities the team chooses to implement projects in and aid in fund raising and outreach efforts in this part of the world. For instance, to help the team narrow down options in terms of choosing solar panels and their installation processes and modalities, I put together an energy profile for Sierra Leone, where we have chosen to install a solar power charging station. We also worked with a UK Not-for-Profit, Planting Promise, which operates out of Freetown, Sierra Leone, to help us locate communities in need and to be our eyes and ears on the ground.
Singaporeans having a discussion on the lawn at the University of Queensland
Despite its challenges, this project has certainly been an eye-opening experience for me. It has given me the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals from around the world, and learn from their outreach and fundraising efforts. Global Sunrise has indeed shown me that passion for the environment can indeed transcend boundaries. It is my hope that through this charity, others can find empowerment to provide opportunities where change is needed and to foster independence in communities towards sustainable development. Join our team at www.globalsunrise.net!
En route to Tangalooma Island Resort as part of the U21 Summer School Program
For more information about Universitas 21, visit - http://www.nus.edu.sg/iro/networks/alliances/u21.html