Light Leads to Healthier, Safer Lives and Education
Project Launch: 1-22-16
Dos Aguas is a rural, remote farming village in the foothills of central Panama that has no electricity. For light, families use homemade kerosene lamps crafted out of old bottles and rags. The kerosene lamps have caused respiratory health problems and have sparked several accidental fires that have burned down houses. Additionally, the cost of kerosene is rising. This project will provide 37 families and three local churches with solar panel kits from a local vendor, allowing them to have clean energy to study, cook and socialize when it’s dark. Community members will participate in workshops focused on environmental stewardship and the proper installation and maintenance of the solar kits.
Project Update: 3/22/16
The Dos Aguas community took complete ownership of the project, mobilizing community members to solicit support from several governmental organizations and holding fundraising events to support families who couldn’t afford the required contribution for the panels. All solar panels have been purchased and installed, and excess funds were used to purchase a communal solar-powered refrigerator, which the community is planning to use for a cooperative community store. The money earned from this new business will be put into a group fund and reserved for future solar panel maintenance and repairs as well as other community projects. Overall, this project has transformed daily life in the community; churches use the new lights to hold evening mass, women can now cook in the early mornings, children can do homework in the evenings, and nobody is paying to have their cell phones charged at the local store anymore. In addition to providing renewable energy, this project also raised awareness about environmental stewardship and has inspired the community to hold monthly trash cleanups to conserve and protect their community.
"Now we have proof that if we work hard together in an organized manner, we can achieve large projects. Not only did we learn more about the environment, but now we have light! From the hill entering Dos Aguas one can see lots of lights. It's a beautiful site. With the solar powered community refrigerator we are making big plans to benefit the community as well as save money to continuing growing our local environmental group, Tres Aguas." - Roberto, Project Leader
"I love to read. Now that our school has a small library I like to read at night. I used to read with a small flashlight but we couldn't always afford batteries. Now I can sit under the new lamp and read as late as I want!" - Bleysi, 8, Project Participant
"I wake up at 5 am to cook coffee and breakfast every morning. Before, I would use a kerosene lamp that emitted lots of smoke, or hold a flashlight in on hand or tucked between my shoulder and neck. It was difficult and a little painful. With the new solar powered lights we put one in the kitchen and I walk around freely without tripping over things and without breathing in painful smoke and am able cook with both hands." - Lucia, Project Participant
"We all have access to clean, renewable energy gifted to us for free by the sun. On top of that we are using less flashlights and saving money on the batteries we used to go through quickly." - Alejandro, Project Participant