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Harnessing the sun’s energy for good

Nature is my primary source of energy and inspiration. My name is Buhle Sithela and my story shows that when we get creative with renewable energy, we can inspire our communities and change the world.

Buhle Sithela is passionate about cinema and believes in its power to educate as well as entertain.

I’m a 22-year-old from Khayelitsha with a burning desire to make a difference. It started with the Khayelitsha Bin Clean Project. I get a few friends together every Friday to clean bins in our neighbourhood for a small fee.

The residents really appreciate the effort. But how I always saw the situation was that for my community, the benefits of clean refuse areas was only the beginning. I use the money from the Bin Clean Project to fund my true passion – cinema.

I just wanted people in my area to be able to watch movies, so I invested in that and started hosting screenings. It began with me borrowing equipment to make this happen, such as speakers and a screen, from anyone that would lend them to me.

Making a difference
To watch a movie is to participate in one of life's simple pleasures - but it's also educational.

It wasn’t easy and turnouts were poor in the beginning, but after a few screenings I was noticed by Sunshine Cinema. They’re an organisation that finds great ways to empower people and promote clean energy. Basically, they identify people from underprivileged places who are willing to help, then partner with them to help people to enjoy the simple pleasure of watching a movie, using solar power.

My days as a Sun Ambassador gave me the strength to push even harder. The recognition really motivated me, but not because I needed reassurance or anything. It just meant that I truly was making a difference, so I took that as a good sign.

It was at this time that I got a Sunbox screening device. It works like a solar-powered version of a traditional projector, which made it possible and affordable for me to host regular screenings in different places and build up some momentum. Being able to bring the magic of the big screen to my township brings a joy that I can’t really describe.

The power to educate and entertain

I screen all types of films. Many of us are on social media, so when the big Hollywood movies are released and it’s all over Facebook and Twitter, it’s cool for everyone to be up to date with popular culture. But I also show local films that people from my community can really relate to; African stories told by our people that discuss our realities.

My passion for film is driven by entertainment, for sure, but education is the true foundation of everything I’m doing. There is a world of learning in any film. So in areas where textbooks and other learning resources are scarce, such as where I’m from, film has the power to teach and empower.

The source of everything good in this world

As a young, ambitious individual that was not able to get an education the conventional way, I found a place to draw knowledge and inspiration from. I want to share this place with others.
And the fact that the business is powered by nature is a big deal for me.

Having a clean carbon footprint means that there are fewer expenses and that I am being kinder to the planet. There have been many challenges to overcome to make this dream happen, but nature has always been in my thoughts. Without the sun’s energy, I may never have found a way to make so many people happy and empower them.

Nature is the source of everything good in this world. It provides for and benefits every South African and everyone on Earth. My message to everyone would be to trust and protect it. I hope I can inspire people because there is no limit to what we can achieve if we turn to nature. If we keep it safe, it will look after us.


Buhle Sithela Photo
Buhle Sithela, entrepreneur

Buhle is passionate about cinema and believes in its power to educate as well as entertain.