During a visit to Juan Obando’s house in January 2015 while eating dinner by flashlight the idea was born to do something about the lack of lights in most of the rural homes surrounding Villa Sandino. (Click here to read the story “A Day in the Life of Juan, Yaneth, and Marturis”)
Within a month we had contacted Emerging Opportunities for Sustainability (EOS) a non-profit founded by a couple Iowa State engineers that was installing solar panels in Nicaragua. In April of 2015 we partnered with families in Riito and Santa Clara. 13 families in Riito installed panels and 12 families in Santa Clara.
Partnering means that the family provides half the cost of the installation and Shelby County provides the other half. Since EOS is a non-profit and raises funds on their own, they can install quality equipment significantly below the market price.
In late 2016 the people of Shelby County and others provided the funding to install panels in 3 more communities. In Las Pavitas, 18 families and the catholic chapel installed panels, in Kinama 2 families, in Guarumo 5 families, and we returned to Santa Clara for 9 more families and the chapel. We expect to return to Kinama and other communities to install panels for the families that need a little more time to raise their share of the cost.
There are 2 roads that pass through the parish boundaries of San Pedro Apostol. If a community has homes located near the road they can receive electricity via traditional electric lines. Because dairy farming is the primary type of farming most house are widely dispersed and the communities do not have a typical village with many houses located together.
In Guarumo there is a group of 14 to 15 houses located about a kilometer off the main road. The electric company will run lines to these house with no cost but they need a road constructed to get their trucks in. The local municipality will pay most of the cost of the road but the community needs to come up with the balance. Shelby County partnered with the families to raise the necessary funds, with each group covering half the construction costs. The overall cost is considerably less than if we installed solar panels in the homes. Electric lines allows the families to use refrigerators and other appliances that solar panels would not. Road construction is scheduled for March 2016.
The next solar panel installation is scheduled in Guapinol for April 2016. There are 5 more communities that still need solar panels. We hope to complete the installations by early 2020.
To support the installation of solar panels please go to: https://www.gofundme.com/villasandino