Meeting great needs with the power of the sun...
An engineer from Sustainable Energy Solutions, the company that manages our The Power of the Sun project,is spending four weeks traveling to Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo to provide additional training for the sisters and co-workers working on the project at each site. The sessions will enhance the skills of the those already involved and train additional sisters and co-workers working in current and new locations
The Power of the Sun uses a set of photovoltaic power panels to create sustainable energy. This provides electricity to purify water and to run homes, hospitals and medical facilities. The power panels also power a satellite, which facilitates an internet connection. Initially, the plan called for one sister per location to be trained, and in 2005, two sisters from Congo and two from Nigeria received a basic, two-week training program in electrical engineering and computer work. Since then, two things have changed: more sites are becoming operational, and the sisters have learned from doing.
The first site, located in Fugar, Nigeria, became operational in 2006. In February 2008, the Ngidinga site was up and running. Located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ngidinga site is a compound that houses a 150-bed hospital, a primary and secondary school and a convent that is home to 11 sisters and a growing number of orphans. The third site, operational in August 2008, is located in Awkunanaw, Nigeria. Contingent upon funding, two additional sites, one in Congo and one in Nigria, are planned to be operational by the end of 2009.
“We have learned from Ngidinga that every site is different,” said Sr. Leonore Coan, Director of Mission Support. “The hospital uses much more power than was needed in Fugar, where the project supports housing and farm operations.”
We have also learned that training one sister per site is not adequate. Every morning the sister managing the project makes sure the internet connection, batteries and electrical reception are all in order. If something isn’t working, she gets in touch with a sister in a different location via two-way radio, cell phone, or internet if available. Fixing the problem can take all day. So the new plan is to train more sisters at each site.
The engineer will be spending four weeks traveling between the two countries and among the three sites. Sisters from those communities, as well as other sisters and local community members in the two countries, will attend the training sessions. A number of sisters are also now attending schools in both Congo and the United States, where they are studying technology and engineering in more depth.
Our founderess, St. Julie Billiart, directed us to teach people what they need to know for life. Today sustainable energy that provides electricity to purify water, run hospitals and medical facilities makes basic life possible. That is why our sisters in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo are learning engineering, electrical and computer skills and passing those skills along to members of their community.
You walk with us on this road to new learnings. Your prayers and support turn on lights and make connections to new possibilities. Please help us continue on this journey and expand this project. Click here to make a contribution, or contact Sr. Leonore Coan at 978-356-2159 ext. 12. You can also write to Sr. Leonore at: Leonore.Coan@sndden.org.