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2013 Haiti Update - Final Day in Haiti

Day 6

It has been an amazing week with everyone in SEO and the rest of the Haiti Empowerment Project. I have gotten to know many of you all better and consider you good friends. I hope to see you next year when I will hopefully return.

 It works! We finished the system on the Community Center early in the day and the school just in time to get out of Germain before it got dark. Archie and Michael finished up the tree light at the community center was finished and we attached the AC wiring to the inverter, and then turned it on. It was really awesome to see the lights turn on. Some of the villagers brought a TV up to the outlet in the Community Center and began watching music videos and then soccer (futbol?). I hope that they don’t get addicted to it! Someone also had a power strip so they could charge about 8 phones at a time. Around 30 villagers ended up gathered around a soccer game and it was cool to see how excited they were to have power.

The school system was a bit more work and we still had a long ways to go to finish. We had to wire up the control box to the panels, do the breaker wiring, mount the fixtures, and do all of the AC wiring. The Haitians were a great help when we had trouble with the concrete being too soft and crumbling when we drilled into it. They were good at improvising and finding creative ways to mount things; like rolling paper around the screws and using a hammer in conjunction with the driver. It ended up not looking too pretty, but it worked. Hanging the Lunera lights was a bit of a challenge, because we ran out of chain and s-hooks, so again we had to improvise with rope. We ended up wiring everything, and then turned on the AC breaker and…. Nothing worked! We went into a frenzy of rewiring, with Titus troubleshooting the problem(s). One was an incorrectly wired switch; another may have been the contacts from the CFL mountings shorting with the metal support structure. He finished just in time for us to leave.

We witnessed some passionate discussion among the Haitians in Germain this week in relation about the locations of the lights and electrical outlets, and I personally am interested to find out what will happen once we are gone. However, I have come to believe that it is out of our hands now, and to truly empower the Haitian community, both the assets and responsibilities brought by electrical power must belong to the Haitians themselves. We gave Mito contact information so that we can remain an educational and maintenance resource. I would like to return to Germain next trip and see how the electricity is being used, and how the system is being maintained. Again, great travelling and sharing in this experience with all of you, we did something great this week.