University of Calgary

Aid project honours fallen Canadian soldier

May 2, 2007

Light Up Papua New Guinea to improve rural first aid posts in birthplace of Capt. Nichola Goddard

Replacing hazardous kerosene lamps with non-polluting, solar-powered lighting systems in nearly 2,000 first aid posts across the island nation of Papua New Guinea is the aim of a new international development project started by the University of Calgary’s Light Up The World Foundation and the family of Capt. Nichola Goddard.

Light Up Papua New Guinea—launched on what would have been the 27th birthday of Goddard—is a tribute to the first female Canadian soldier to be killed in combat. She died last May 17 in Panjoway District, near Kandahar, Afghanistan during a military operation against Taliban forces.   

Goddard was born in Papua New Guinea and spent the first three years of her life living alongside her parents in the communities of Passam, Losuia in the Trobriand Islands and Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands. Her parents, who met in Papua New Guinea, were teachers working with local community members to build new schools.

Light Up Papua New Guinea aims to bring sturdy, solar-powered lighting systems to 1,820 first aid posts that are the front line of health care in isolated villages throughout Papua New Guinea.

“This project is a fitting legacy for Nichola because she was passionate about helping people and improving the lives of others,” said her father, Dr. Tim Goddard, the University of Calgary’s Vice-Provost (International).

“Nichola was always proud of the fact that she was born in Papua New Guinea, and we are proud that she is continuing to make a difference in this country that was always close to her heart,” said her mother, Sally Goddard.

Nichola Goddard was born in Madang, Papua New Guinea on May 2, 1980 and lived in several regions of the country before her family returned to Canada when she was three years old. She grew up in Canada, attending school in several provinces, including Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. After graduating from high school, she enrolled at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. She joined the Canadian Armed Forces and became a captain in the 1st Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.

The Goddard family is working with the Light Up the World Foundation to raise money for Light Up Papua New Guinea. A tax-deductible $200 donation to the program will cover the cost of installing a solar-powered, solid state lighting system in one first aid post. The lighting systems use ultra-efficient light emitting diode (LED) bulbs that last for decades and will provide bright, useful light to aid workers. First aid posts serve as the first level of health care for villages around Papua New Guinea. Villagers provide a building—often a simple structure made of wood or palm fronds—where a health care worker is assigned to treat everything from emergencies to common illnesses. Serious cases are sent to the closest health centre or hospital.

“Providing a safe and reliable source of light will dramatically improve the most basic level of health care in Papua New Guinea and eliminate the need to use kerosene lanterns, which present a fire hazard in first aid posts,” said Ambassador Evan Paki, Papua New Guinea’s ambassador to North America based in Washington D.C. “We deeply appreciate the assistance this will provide to the people of Papua New Guinea and are honoured by the Goddard family’s continuing interest in our nation. The fact that this project is conceived in memory of a young woman who gave her life for her country makes it even more meaningful.”

Light Up Papua New Guinea is one of dozens of international humanitarian aid projects undertaken by the Light Up the World Foundation since it was born out of the work of Schulich School of Engineering electrical engineering professor Dr. Dave Irvine-Halliday, who began providing LED lighting kits to villages in Nepal in 1999. With the help of individual donors, corporate and non-profit partners and host countries, the foundation has lit up more than 14,000 homes in 42 countries and is striving to reach the more than 2 billion people without adequate sources of lighting worldwide.

In addition to Light Up Papua New Guinea, the foundation has projects underway in the Peruvian Amazon, refugee camps for tsunami victims in Sri Lanka, in villages surrounding the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary in Ghana and in communities neighbouring the Virunga-Bwindi Mountain Gorilla Reserve on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Providing a safe, reliable source of light is one of the most important things you can do to improve living conditions for people living in remote and ecologically sensitive areas,” said Light Up the World Foundation CEO Kim Veness. “The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the developing world comes from dirty, hazardous and expensive fuel-based sources such as kerosene for lighting.”

For more information about the Light Up the World Foundation or to donate to the Light Up Papua New Guinea project, visit the foundation’s website at www.lutw.org, phone: (403) 210-9552 or email Roselyn Himann at: r.himann@lutw.org