Electricity is scarce in Cambodia, where over 40% of the population is estimated to go without. At school, pupils may have limited hours that depend on the sunshine or money for generator fuel. At home, many families only have electricity as long as the diesel generators or car batteries can be kept running. These options require continued expenses and can hurt a community’s physical and environmental health. The government struggles to connect communities, as around 85% of the population lives in rural areas. But the country boasts an abundant resource, and a potential solution: the sun.
This is where Twende Solar step in, solar panels in tow. Twende Solar is an NGO focussing on accessibility to sustainable development. They recently set their sights on Stephen Mazujian Middle School, a school recently built to serve 12 poor villages on the outskirts of Siem Reap. There, Twende implemented a two-fold solar response to meet the needs of the school and surrounding communities.
The two-fold solar project addressed the places where light and electricity are most in demand: at school, and at home. For the school, Twende worked with a team of fourteen volunteers from the solar industry and beyond to install a 26kW solar system on the roof of the new middle school. The size of the solar installation is designed to allow the school to expand enrollment to one thousand students, and offer a computer lab in the future. The system would even be able to serve a future high school campus built nearby. The team planned ahead for community independence, training community members in how to use the technology, and how to troubleshoot the solar panels if there’s ever an issue.
The second step was to get safe, affordable light in homes. Twende distributed custom-printed LuminAID PackLite 16 solar lanterns to schoolchildren and community members. These versatile solar lanterns will allow schoolchildren study or read at home, and families to reduce dependence on toxic generators that cut into their limited budgets. In this way, the portable lanterns are a second investment in the future, boosting kids’ opportunities for learning and healthy growth.
After installing and distributing the solar technology, the Twende team didn’t stop there. Schoolchildren, teachers, and community members gathered to learn from the Twende team about renewable energy and solar technology. Twende solar project worked to not only provide a learning environment in which curiosity and passion could thrive, but also worked to excite students about energy technology and science.
By working closely with the students and community to provide a resource for future community development, Twende hopes to support their empowerment. “Twende” means “Let’s go” in Swahili. This encouraging logo was custom-printed on each of the LuminAID lights they distributed, a reminder of the bright path ahead when sought with determination and emboldened by basic resources for achievement.
To learn more about Twende Solar, or how to get involved, visit theTwende Solar site.
Now that spring is in full swing, the warm weather is wonderful motivation to bring your team outdoors and make a local impact. Service projects and volunteering opportunities make for great team bonding experiences that also help strengthen your local community.