Those of you who know me well, know that one of my greatest passions in life is traveling. I've backbacked on adventures through over 20 countries, meeting great people, and exploring new cultures everywhere I've gone. But I've always wanted to do more than just leave footprints. I've wanted to make an impact.
When I found out about this project, I jumped on it. This is the opportunity to combine many of my life's passions: making a contribution to fellow humans, using alternative energy, exploring and creating bridges between cultures.
Please read on to learn about my trip with Power to the People to Los Calpules, Nicaragua, to install solar power in a remote community that has no electricity.
I hope you'll be moved to support their work as I have been.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE wrote -
In November 2013, Power to the People volunteers will travel to Nicaragua to install two off-grid solar electric systems in the community of Los Calpules. The photovoltaic systems will be installed on the community’s elementary school and health clinic, providing both buildings with reliable electric power 24 hours a day.
Los Calpules, a rural community located in Ciudad Dario, Matagalpa, is about 16 kilometers away from the conventional electrical grid. The residents of Los Calpules are subsistence farmers and survive on an average of only $3 per day. Like many communities without electricity, the residents of Los Calpules must send their cell phones or lead-acid batteries on the local bus every week to be charged in the nearest town in Ciudad Dario. Other families rely on kerosene lamps as a source of lighting for their homes, paying on average $5 per gallon for fuel. Currently, the elementary school and health clinic in the community have no electricity at all.
The two-room elementary school is the only school in town and it serves pre-school through sixth grade children. It is an ideal place to install a photovoltaic system because it is a community building that benefits everyone. By installing a 1kW photovoltaic system at the school with LED lighting and AC electrical outlets, teachers will be able to show movies, educational videos and use laptops. The outlets also allow community members to charge cell phones so residents can keep in touch with people outside of their community. Power to the People volunteers will also install a battery charging station so people can charge lead-acid batteries to power lights and small appliances in their homes.
Just 20 meters from the school is the Totumbla Health Center. This health center services the entire Totumbla district, which is comprised of nine communities (a total of 1,577 inhabitants). The health center provides basic health care to an average of 20 patients per day. It is attended by a full-time nurse who lives in the community and one physician that visits on a monthly basis to do consultations. The center had a photovoltaic system installed in 2007, but the capacity of the system was too small to meet the health center’s growing needs and stopped working shortly after a couple of years, despite attempts to regularly maintain the system.
The head nurse, Maria Auxiliadora, says that if she must see a patient after sundown she has no choice but to perform medical procedures working by candlelight or by kerosene lamp. The clinic can no longer provide critical medications and vaccines for patients because there is no refrigeration so she must send her patients to the hospital in the town of Ciudad Dario to get the medications and vaccines they need. A photovoltaic system installed on the Totumbla Health Center will greatly improve the access and quality of health care to residents in Totumbla. The 1kW battery-based PV system will provide lights and enough power for the nurses and doctors to utilize medical equipment such as defibrillators and a freezer to store vaccines and medications.
Please help us help this good community.