Activity Report, Mayan Power and Light Workshop, November 2013.
(Note: This report is a translation of a report from the ATC team in Xela, Guatemala who traveled to Lake Atitlan to teach our Circuits and Solar class and to help start a solar power cooperative. There are photos missing that will be added as an attachment.)
This document is a report of the activities carried out in Santa Cruz la Laguna and Panajachel, with the Mayan Women mentors, which aimed to reinforce the skills possessed by young Mayan women so that in the future they may be able to start a small enterprise or cooperative in order to sell and install small solar energy systems.
Increase the knowledge and skills of the Estrella de Mar young women in regards to technical matters.
The following are some of the specific objectives:
Tools and carpentry workshop:
The workshop proceeded according to plan, starting at 9:00 at the CECAP site in Santa Cruz la Laguna. 21 young women participated, aided by 3 Estrella de Mar mentors in the morning and one in the afternoon, plus 2 people from AEIDS who helped in the development of the workshop.
The young women first received a theoretical tools workshop in order to receive some guidelines regarding their use, shape, practical recommendations, etc. They then went to the CECAP carpentry workshop, where they built a small wooden box 22x16x12 cm tall. They measured, cut and assembled the wood until it was done. Each person built one box, but they worked in pairs to help each other out.
In the afternoon, they worked with electronic circuits as an introduction to the following day when they would go into more depth into the topic of solar panels.
The second day was spent in Panajachel since it was near the facilities that would be needed in the afternoon.
We only lent our support to the 3 mentors from Estrella del Mar that worked with the young women.
The panels’ output was measured in the light, shade, connected in series and in parallel. We also covered every connection that an actual system would have, the site location, considerations due to shade, orientation and inclination of the panel.
During the installation process, we split into two groups because we had to complete two installations in two separate houses.
I went with the group that made the installation at Santa Catarina Palopó, which took us all afternoon to complete.
We found the installation site and then checked for shadows so we could later find a place for the controller and install the light bulbs.
After carrying out the activity we can draw the following conclusions:
I visited part three of the workshop as the women were starting to test solar panels and wire together their "Kits Solares". There was a level of intensity and excitement in the room with the women asking lots of questions and having fun learning new skills. Several days after the workshop, I talked with Norma, the Director of Starfish in Panajachel and she said that for many of the women this was a life changing experience. They never had imagined that they could learn and accomplished so much in a technical field like solar power. The ultimate goal of our Mayan Power and Light project is to help Mayan Girls start a solar power cooperative. The workshop participants have already asked us for extra solar hardware for additional installations. Success: We have been very fortunate to collaborate with Starfish One-By-One, an NGO which provides opportunities and mentoring for young Mayan women and our Engineers José Ordoñez and Carlos Alvarez, who make learning technical subjects fun. We also thank Michael Smith of Ann Arbor who created the original Circuits and Solar curriculum. We also need to thank you for your contribution to this project! Without you and our local collaborative partners, our Mayan Power and Light fproject would not be possible. Mayan Power and Light is successful beyond our original goals. We started this program with the intention of providing the Circuits and Solar workshop to a total of 4 women mentors and 24 Mayan Girls. We are now on track to teach 12 mentors and 45 Mayan girls this year. (We also have a waiting list of over 100 for next year) In order to continue our success we need to find more funding so each girl can get a "Kit Solar" ($100 ea.) and have the experience of installing solar power on a home that lacks electricity. We also need to pay for more teachers and additional transportation, books and materials. Please consider a donation to this program through Global Giving: http://bit.ly/MayanPowerandLight Thank you,
John S. Barrie
I am just back from Guatemala where I met with the lead teacher for women's class for Circuits and Solar.
We had 32 women sign up to learn to teach the class for the Spring / Summer term. We had originally decided that we would teach 2 women mentors in the Spring and another 2 women in the Fall. With such enthusiasm on the part of the teachers we have changed the program to teach 12 Mayan women mentors this summer and a total of 45 students in the fall. Note: This far exceeds our original goal of teaching 4 women mentors and 24 - 36 students.
This leaves us with a dilemma. We have created a class that bridges the technology gap between men and women but because the class is expensive to teach (each student and teacher receives a solar power kit which costs ATC just under $100.00 each) plus we have had to add a class in how to use basic construction tools for the women mentors. It looks like we are going to come up short at the end of the year by $3,500 - $4,000.
We try to have our reports be upbeat and not just another request for funding. Unfortunately this time we need to break with our tradition and ask you for a donation to help this program be the success people have come to expect from The Appropriate Technology Collaborative.
Also of news, we have made some changes in the curriculum and how the class is taught. Each student and teacher will be responsible for installing their solar power system in a home or other building that lacks electricity. They will work in groups so everyone has experience with more than one installation.
Our project has a new name: "Mayan Power and Light" We are collaborating with the NGO "Starfish One-by-One" to teach young Mayan women about electricity and solar power and we are going to help start a women's solar power cooperative.
We hired Formative Evaluation Research Associates (FERA) to help us assess our impact for this project. FERA is an independent evaluation group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan that has provided evaluation and learning opportunities to the nonprofit sector for over 35 years.
FERA works with clients engaged in innovative efforts at the local, national, and international levels. These clients include foundations and their grantees, nonprofit organizations, strategic alliances and collaborative efforts, and networks/membership associations.
In January Dr. Karin Tice of FERA visited our partners in Guatemala, and she visited potential clients for solar sales and installations.
The first take aways from Dr. Tice's preliminary report are:
1. The teachers and students are very engaged already with the project.
2. The value of solar is greater than we expected. Rural Guatemalan's that do not have electricity are spending more on candles and kerosene lamps than our original estimate. This makes sales of solar lighting systems a better model for a business than we anticipated.
3. Our Engineers are ready starting February 27th to work with our partners, Starfish One-by-One, and teach the Starfish mentors the solar curriculum.
4. Our Executive Director is traveling tonight to Guatemala with teaching materials and home solar energy systems to get the first class started.
We are very excited to get to the real work of this project.
We will keep you posted on how things are developing, and
Thank you so very much for making this project possible!
Our class for the girls will be taught in March of 2013, and materials are on their way to Guatemala. Based on the girls' goals of operating a cooperative and the business potential, we have expanded the course.
Originally, we would be teaching them the basics of circuits and solar technology. Now we are adding transistors to the curriculum. Transistors are the basis of all electronic devices. Having this key knowledge, the girls would be able to create a variety of businesses to support themselves. Having this skill set will allow the girls the flexibility to respond to the needs of their community as it integrates with technology and their knowledge will give them a level of personal power to take care of their needs and their families.
In March, we also hope to talk with the girls about their school being the base for classes that we would teach to fellow nonprofits about solar, solar cooperatives and creating solar businesses. This would also give the girls a chance to work with others outside their community, building their people skills.
In the middle photo you will see our girls: Yolanda, Elisabeth, Selena, Reyna and Lorena.
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