BENEFITING: POWER TO THE PEOPLE
EVENT DATE: Mar 09, 2013
Travel to Nicaragua in March 2013 with Power to the People to install solar panels on an elementary school. During your 8-day vacation as a “voluntourist”, you will install a 920W off-grid photovoltaic system in the rural community of Potrero del Platanal followed by a trip around Nicaragua to visit some of the country’s most beautiful sites. You’ll see breathtaking views from Catarina’s Mirador, shop in the colonial-style town of Granada, hike in a cloud forest on Volcan Mombacho, take a boat tour of the Granada islands, and tour the sustainable coffee farm of Selva Negra.
Potrero del Platanal is small rural village located in the municipality of San Lorenzo, Boaco, Nicaragua. The town has approximately 285 inhabitants living with no access to conventional grid electricity. The community of Potrero del Platanal (“Plantain Corral” translated from Spanish) is one of the most remote communities in this region, tucked away within the mountainous landscape of San Lorenzo, Boaco. The community lies on a high altitude plateau where the climate is cool and damp enough to grow plantains, which is how the community got its name. The community also raises livestock and grows other crops for self-consumption, such as corn, beans, and wheat.
There is no road access to the community, so residents must travel up and down the mountain on foot or on horseback to reach the nearest town that is about 1.5 hours away. The community’s residents are perseverant and deeply concerned about the education of their children. When the school was being constructed 12 years ago, the community mobilized to help carry all materials on horseback and mule uphill on a rugged and muddy path. Today, thanks to the commitment and dedication of the community, the children now have a school and there are currently 52 primary students and 17 pre-school students that attend the school.
Power to the People volunteers are bringing lights and AC power to the school by installing a battery-based photovoltaic system on the roof of the school. The system will provide LED lights and electrical outlets so teachers can use more advanced teaching aids like educational videos and laptops. Community members will be able to charge cell phones and radios, and volunteers will install a separate battery charging station for residents to charge lead-acid batteries to power small lights and appliances in their homes.
Access to electricity in this community will also allow adults to attend night classes and hold community events and meetings in a safe well-lit building.