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Voices from the Field: The Solar Fellows! (Linda, Lucas, Nick & Sarah)

Hi Everyone! It’s the Solar Fellows here again with an update from Yapalsi!

With the help of the community, we finished building and painting the solar charging center in Yapalsi. It was really inspirational to see everyone excited about the center and working with us. Each time we left the village for the day, we would return the next day to find that the community had completed yet another section of the center. Their enthusiasm became our source of motivation.

The community helps us add the last cement bricks to the foundation.
The community helps us add the last cement bricks to the foundation.
Lucas and the masons plaster the solar center.
Lucas and the masons plaster the solar center.
 Nick paints those hard to reach spots on the solar center
Nick paints those hard to reach spots on the solar center
Lucas and Linda paint the door of the solar center
Lucas and Linda paint the door of the solar center

Over the past few days, we have been working with Sana, Shetu, and Rahina, the three entrepreneurs who are have been running the water center and now the solar charging center. After we taught them how to connect the solar panels to the microcontroller, battery, and inverter, the women connected the components of the system together and the solar center works!

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Rahina connects the wiring of the solar panels.
Sana learns to connect the solar panels wires to the microcontroller.
Sana learns to connect the solar panels wires to the microcontroller.

We then explained how to calculate the maximum wattage that they could connect to the center.  Prior to teaching them that each cell phone uses 5 Watts while a full battery charger uses 14 Watts, we worried that the women would have trouble with the math, as they had never gone to school before. However, Sana, Shetu, and Rahina completely surpassed our expectations with their exceptional mental math ability.

Linda explains to the women how to connect the batteries and chargers.
Linda explains to the women how to connect the batteries and chargers.

During training, many people from Yapalsi were curious about how to connect the system and how the solar center would work.  A large crowd gathered outside during training, but after the Friday rain, most Yapalsians began farming, and the final day of training proved to be much quieter and more efficient.
After the solar center construction and training, we went to each and every household to distribute Burro lanterns and explain how to use them. We also explained how they would be able to buy fully charged batteries at the solar center to light their lantern and drop them off when they were out of charge. They were also extremely excited to be able to charge their cell phones for the first time in their village. Previously, they had been travelling to Savelugu a few kilometers away to pay someone to charge their phone. Picking them up usually meant returning to a swapped battery, missing SIM card, or worse a stolen phone. We really hope that the solar center will prove to be a major convenience and improvement for their lives. We finished our last day of distribution today with Linda and Sarah painting CWS’ logo onto the solar center! Tomorrow night is the grand opening of the solar center and we cannot wait! We shall update you soon!

-Linda, Lucas, Nick, and Sarah

Nick demonstrates how to open and close the Burro lantern
Nick demonstrates how to open and close the Burro lantern
Lucas visits a household to explain the rechargeable lantern program.
Lucas visits a household to explain the rechargeable lantern program.

 

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