With Goal Zero's Buy One, Give One campaign, we're supporting Goal Zero Ambassador, Mylo Fowler (@navajomylo), provide indigenous families that have limited access to power, with the tools to continue educating their children at home in these remote times. Mylo shares his experiences growing up on indigenous land to highlight his motivations for returning to these communities, empowering families, and providing accessibility to resources like power and education.
Today there are so many Indigenous youth who face the identical challenges I had when I was in elementary school around 30 years ago. Since 2015 I’ve been using proceeds from my work like calendars, prints, workshops and assignments to help families by buying solar kits. I’ve been able to work with Goal Zero and other partners to help organize trips to Navajo land and install solar kits on homes in need. To date we’ve installed solar kits on over 200 homes.
In our home we never had 24/7 access to electricity until years after I graduated high school in 2000.
The very first time I saw my father use a truck battery for something other than to power our pick-up was when I was in 1st grade. The truck battery ran our black and white TV for about 15 minutes before my father or I had to go outside and turn on the truck so the battery wouldn’t completely die. It’s amazing how much power that small, roughly 8” tv, needed.
Fortunately many of my friends lived in town and had electricity. At times I would overextend my welcome and ask to spend the night at their homes just to do my homework. It was uncomfortable at times as an elementary and middle school kid however their generosity helped.
In high school we had late start on Wednesdays which meant school didn’t start until after 9:00am. Rather than loaf around and wait for the bus, I would ride my BMX bike 22.6 miles to our LDS Seminar building. I’d often get there at 8am. The seminar teachers allowed me to work on anything I needed until school started. The first 2 miles of my bike ride was pure dirt roads so if I had a flat tire or bike problems, I would hitchhike to Page.
That extra hour to do my schoolwork helped me because at times I needed to access education resources I didn’t have at our home.
A few places outside of our home had electricity which allowed me to have food, warm water and resources. Being able to participate in high school sports was perfect for me because we had to maintain a good GPA in order to participate. I ran cross country my sophomore, junior and senior year. Each of those years we had a fast team and won 4A State Championships each year.
I did the best I could to be a student first in order to be an athlete.
I didn’t graduate anywhere near the top of my class however I still wake up early or stay up late and continue learning. Having access to electricity now means I can tap into all that the internet provides, apps, articles, e-books and items to buy have allowed me to advance my career as a photographer. The easy ability to study other artists enables me to appreciate their artform. One item that is crucial is being able to access researchers regarding land and water issues. Being better educated is empowering!
During the pandemic I’ve shifted my efforts away from being around families and installing solar kits. Since many youth are learning from home or remotely, we’ve provided school and educational supplies for youth. Being able to partner with Heart of America which is a 501(c)3 non-profit, we’ve delivered over 7,500 distance learning kits to youth across Navajoland, Hopi, several Pueblo in New Mexico and the Chemehuevi Tribe in California.
The kits comprise of grade/age-appropriate books, school and art supplies, hand sanitizers, face masks, Goal Zero crush light, solar car and STEM activities.
I hope to help youth that are passionate about learning and pursuing education past high school.
In one home where we installed a Goal Zero solar kit, we met with a wonderful Navajo gal who graduated from high school her junior year! She inspired me! She didn’t have an iPad or tablet of any kind, so we were able to gift her one. She was so deserving! Her example of striving is fueling our next project where we will help excelling students with Chromebooks, 4G hotspot, a distance learning kit and a complete Goal Zero home solar kit to light and power their devices to continue learning.
To support Mylo and provide resources for distanced learning to families and children of Native communities impacted by COVID-19, please visit HeartofAmerica.org.