Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Cambodia:
Bright and early March 8 I departed with Yejj to a floating village in Phat Sanday. We met with Yejj staff and Live&Learn Staff to install solar lighting to 10 families who have neither access to electricity nor running water. We also would be training 2 entrepreneurs to begin selling the solar packs to these villages.
We departed by boat and soon I found myself floating among homes, floating markets, and even floating pig farms. Houses along the river ranged from solid wood structures, to boat homes, and then there were the homes made of straw that barely had roofs and appeared to be sturdy enough to barely withstand a strong wind.
The first stop was the Live&Learn office. Live&Learn is the local organization that supports these communities. Instead of creating new relationships and wasting resources, Yejj identifies impact-creating local organizations already working within the communities and supports the technology gaps such as a need for renewable energy: solar lighting in this instance. I learned all about the work of Live&Learn as well as its relationship with Yejj and the villages.
Next stop – visiting the school that received its first library as well as Yejj solar lights. The school-teacher said that now he can offer more tutoring and after school classes for students wanting to study more math and English after the sun goes down, which before was impossible. Sun down meant shut down. The library also has now become a resource for the community at night allowing members to come after a full day of fishing or working to read letters, congregate, and for kids to come read and study since they too spend the whole day, if not in class, then supporting their families with work. When we returned that night, kids were gathered in the library reading not only for themselves but out loud with others gathered around listening to the stories.
Following this we went to install solar lights for the families.These 10 families were identified as the poorest of the poor in these communities. It was incredible to be able to experience first hand the impact of what the lights are providing for these communities. It is hard to describe the joy and appreciation each family expressed during and after the process. One family even mentioned they hoped their kids could use the lights at night to study more, and every family continuously thanked us. The solar packs were easy to assemble and allowed mobility (since these families tend to move around a lot).
Finally, we met with the entrepreneurs to begin training on how the packs work, how to identify price, what the process will look like, and go over next steps. One of them explained to me why he was so excited about this system. He walked me over to his back room and showed a wall of cables and controls that were part of an older solar panel system for electricity – it was impractical, confusing, and unfeasible in these communiteis.Yejj’s solar packs were easy to use and practical for the needs of these villages.
Yejj was identifying and addressing a need in this community as well as provided a thorough background on its organization, staff, current projects, and future goals.
For more details and pictures about my visit please visit: JacquelineInTheField
Thanks again for all your ongoing support and donations! Your ongoing support means we are going to e able to impact a lot more people than we originally thought we would!
On our last visit to the village we offered application forms for those interested in becoming entrepreneurs selling and servicing solar products. The turnout was overwhelming; especially considering that we were there on an important holiday, so we thought it would be difficult to gather people.
We installed a couple sample systems in the Live&Learn office so that people can come anytime to see the systems working and get a better understanding of how they work. We also did a few visits to local shop owners as well as many households to continue to understand their situation and present to the option of solar. We also went, to an area of the poorest families, were we intend to install the first 10 solar systems, before setting up the entrepreneurs.
The second day we had a workshop and invited anyone interested in becoming entrepreneurs. Our friends at Live&Learn have been promoting this weeks before our visit, so that people already knew what we were doing. We left them with application forms and a week later we had received 12 forms! The staff from L&L were very helpful in the selection process as they are the ones that really understand the dynamics of the village and have a relationship with the people already.
We have currently selected 2 entrepreneurs and are in the process of selecting the next two, by the end of the week. Our Staff will then go down to meet these 4 entrepreneurs, and set them up with donated systems for their shops/houses/boats, so they become familiar with the products and have a chance to use it before they sell it.
We are happy to announce that a GlobalGiving Representative will be joining us in our next visit early March to install the 10 systems in the 10 selected poor households as well as to do the initial training with the entrepreneurs. Enjoy some of the pictures from our last visit, and we will keep you posted after we visit the village again early next month!
THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT!
Thank you all for your continued support to our project. Due to the recent flooding here in South East Asia, specifically Thailand and Cambodia. We decided to postpone the plans for a few weeks due to difficult access and also the priority of helping those affected by the floods. We have recently been able to concentrate again on the solar projects in Phat Sanday Village. After discussions with Live&Learn and village leaders we have finally come up with a suitable application process for the entrepreneurs that makes it fair for everyone involved. You can find the draft of this application uploaded here on the global giving site. It is waiting for final approval from the village council. Once we get this approval we will go to the village to install the first kits in houses, the school, and the community center. We will also have several workshops and demonstrations, while our friends from Live and Learn get the application process started with the community. We will also be looking at the feasibility of replacing or complimenting the current battery charging station with solar power.
We are aware that this process is taking longer than originally expected but it has been a conscious decision between Yejj Solar, Live&Learn, and the village council, in order to make the process sustainable and fair to all those involved, and of course we were delayed by the recent flooding. BUT that’s not going to stop us, its given us greater motivation to help this impoverished community. We already have the solar kits here in country ready to set up micro-entrepreneurs and install in households.
So thanks again for your support and your patience. I am sure very soon, we will have some great updates and pictures to show how your contributions have improved the lives of so many people!
Until next time!
It is amazing to continue receiving your donations as we extend our project to help an additional 50 families… and hopefully more. Now the initial project has grown and due to initial success, our friends at Live&Learn have secured additional funding for additional solar energy related projects; your money will not only affect the households that are lucky to receive one of our kits, but your contributions will have an impact in the entire community as now the village schools, community center, and ranger stations will also be powered by solar!!! Due to the scaling up of the projects, Yejj Solar and Live&Learn have been working together to plan the best approach that will lead to sustainability of the initiative while also improving the lives of as many people as possible. The last report described some of these ideas. We will meet next week to come up with the schedule and action plan. We will keep you updated as soon as this is done. I will publish our schedule so you can follow our progress. Looking forward to this great project! Thank you once again for your amazing support and comments!
Thanks to your support and contributions we have reached the original goal and will be able to provide solar lighting kits to 50 Cambodian families! The project has been such a success that we have decided to extend it in order to finance another 50 families, for a total of 100!
The first shipment of lighting kits that were donated by you will arrive next week and we will immediately take them to the village to install in houses, set up small local entrepreneurs, and do more workshops and demonstration.
As mentioned in the previous report, the success and interest of the program within the village has been even greater than expected and we are now setting up local entrepreneurs that can supplement their income by selling and maintaining solar lighting kits within the village. So your original donations will now affect way more than just 50 families. To add on to that, our partner organization in the village, was so impressed with the success of solar in this community that they have now applied and RECEIVED a grant to put solar energy systems in key facilities and public spaces fro the village, such as the ranger station, community center, and schools. This is going to make a HUGE difference in the lives of the entire community, not just a few households.
One again, thank you for your incredible support with this project! I hope you can help us with our new goal of funding another 50 families! Please send this to family and friends!
Please keep an eye open for more updates and pictures soon!
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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