We just wrapped up a long and eventful trip up-country that included two of the schools being completed among a total of seven sites.
Vaama was the first of the schools and went fairly smoothly...until the bees came. I had heard African bees can be a bit nasty and they certainly lived up to their word. All of the crew were stung numerous times and work was cancelled for the day. After a bit of recovery and the bees banishment we came the next day and finished the work. Good news...the village has lights in the school...bad news, their honey supply is dramatically lower.
For the next two days we worked in Kambama, the last village on the way to Tiwai and the location of the boat launching point. Although the plan was to just do the school we ended up with a much more ambitious and difficult project that included lights at the barri and water pump, a streetlight in the car turning area and a 400 yard trench to the school and the full lighting of that. It was a tough two days for the team and the 50 or so community members who contributed by either digging, building fixtures, cooking or just providing general support. In the end the community can not only enjoy the benefit of school lighting but can also boast of being the frist 'grid tied' community in Pujehun! For a bit more information on this project see the update for Global Giving project 2584.
The first two schools, located in the Chiefdom headquarters of Potoru-Barri and Boama-Koya were completed over the weekend. Despite some rough roads and a hectic schedule, the two villages and over a 1000 students are now ready to enjoy the solar powered lighting. According to the Potoru staff this is the first school in the entire District to get electricity and will be of huge benefit and a source of local pride. These installations were done in combination with our training programme at Kissy Technical Institute (http://www.globalgiving.com/pr/2600/proj2584a.html) and four students from that class participated in the work, gaining valuable practical experience.
John Sahr Sahid is a Sierra Leonian who visited one of the projects managed by the Environmental Foundation for Africa. He said:
I arrived at exactly 13hrs GMT. I was Welcomed by Simon Willans programme Coordinator: Environmental Foundation for Africa(EFA) bear footed on the road that leads the EFA Country Headquaters at the Lakka Village.
The waves of the Atlantic Ocean splashing on the rocks and sands, sounds of birds , Coconut palm trees and Canoes of the fishermen; Lakka Village is among the best in Sierra Leone for its scenery, sand beaches and as such many tourist come there to swim, relax and enjoy the sunshine. Surrounded by peninsula mountains the main ethnic groups here are the Shebros of which most fishing is their occupation.
I was taken to the main compound of the EFA. On the grounds are fitted two rows of Solar panels that provide 90% of the electricity. With use of renewable energy becoming an important issue the Lakka project is no doubt a step in the right direction in a country still battling to provide sustainable energy to households.
The project has provide a battery charging center for Motorists and alike, making it cheaper and readily available with less stress. The Installation of street lamps on the main roads of the village has also brought relief for the community in terms of visibility at night. The few houses that have got the battery solar installations, most of the children are now having more study time and great improvement in performance at school. Fatigue due to kerosene lamp has changed, less eyes itching etc.
Installation of a twin solar panels at the village community hall has helped to make meetings. Religious gatherings can now be held late at night without the use of petrol generators with lots of noise.
Abdul M.Kamara is the first in the village community to have a complete set of the battery plus inverter to be fitted at his house.
He works for the EFA - "I am really about this solar project my children can study with good visibility, charging of my mobile phone is much easier, using of my radio and cassette player is much easier. At night my house is light making people to think I have a petrol generator with no noise."
My action will continue to advocate for more funding for such solar projects for smaller/remote communities. I want to see more use of renewable energy as a means of energy sustainability in Sierra Leone.
-John Sahr Sahid
GlobalGiving ask visitors: "What would you tell your friends about this project?" Sahr replied, "Great: They are making a difference!"
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