This year, Solar Roots was invited by the Metta Foundation to give a training in Solar PV in Lashio, northern Shan State. The training was held at Metta's demonstration farm, just 20 minutes from downtown Lashio. Set in 30 acres of fruit trees and rice paddies, the farm was a perfect location to to learn about solar. There were around 20 participants, mainly drawn from Metta's regional offices. The farm already had a 180W PV system, but it was not functioning properly and this was the perfect opportunity for the students to put their newly acquired troubleshooting knowledge to the test! In addition, we installed a new 160W PV array, with a manual tracker and charge controller. Many students had some previous experience with PV, but had never had any formal training. All in all, the Lashio training was a great success and the students left with a new confidence in their ability to install and troubleshoot solar electric systems
As part of our project to bring solar lighting to remote communities in Burma, I have given a series of trainings in Photovoltaics (PV) in various communities. This year, I returned to Taungoo, to teach a class of Karen villagers from the remote hill country nearby. We had a total of 14 participants plus my able translator NerTer. During the 3 days we covered PV basics such as batteries and how to optimize the solar panel installation for maximum output. Solar panel prices have decreased dramatically in the last two years and they are now more affordable for many people in Burma. But, the technology is still poorly understood and even the equipment vendors have only the vaguest idea how they work. It is the mission of Solar Roots to train individuals and communities in the installation and maintenance of these systems. Step by step, with your help, we are getting there.
In February this year I went back to Mayanwa village near Pyapon to visit the community that received our first Candle Replacement Solar Kit last year. It was a joyous reunion. I got to meet up with many old friends such as Zaw Win, the man who had generously volunteered to manage the solar charging station. After one year of operation, our solar system was judged very successful. And indeed, after only 10 months, the fees paid for battery charging were sufficient to purchase another system. This is our model: Solar Roots donates the first system, then the accumulated fees are used to purchase additional systems – a self funding solar project!
Father Benjamin founded the The Ayerwaddy Homeland Project in Maungmya over 20 years ago. A community of nearly 300 people they are developing a self-reliant lifestyle based on organic rice farming and education of their children. Some of the children are orphans and some are refugees from the 2008 Cyclone Nargis.
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