I was all set to move on from Haiti (for a bit) and wouldn’t ya know it, my favorite magazine, HomePower, shows up and they have a piece on what’s going on down there in the world of solar. So I thought I’d throw one more post up and let you know what’s already happening as there are a few organizations who are really doing great things.
Before I head into the specifics, I recently recalled an interview we conducted with one of the Partners in Health doctors while in Port Au Prince. I don’t know him personally so I’ll leave his name out of this article, but we met up with him after he’d been there for three weeks in the General Hospital (or what’s left of it) in the middle of the city. He’d been there since day three and just looking at him you could tell what he’d been through.
Over the course of an hour, we just let him talk, about the trauma, the lack of supplies, the shortages of just about everything but dead and dying people, and how he was dealing with everything. But what struck me most was something that he said towards the end of the interview. He was listing off all the things that they still were in need of to give us an idea of how bad things were. And then he stopped, and he said “but you know what the one single thing that we needed more than anything else that probably caused us to lose more people those first few days?” I thought for a few minutes and figured he’d say clean water, antibiotics, or bandages, but what he said next truly took me by surprise, until I realized how true it was.
“Power,” he said. “If we had had electricity those first few days, we would have saved so many more people.” He went on to explain how the doctors would work like madmen as the light faded and how once it got dark, the work all but ceased as they could only help the few people they could tend to with what little light they had. He spoke of the cries at night and how there was little they could do for people without light to see by. He described the horror of knowing you could do more and the frustration of being limited by something that most of us take so easily for granted.
And then he broke down and cried.
Solar Electric Light Fund: Were helping Partners in Health get all nine of their hospitals running on solar power before the earthquake and are now diverting supplies to filed hospitals in Port Au Prince.
Sun Energy Power International: Have been working with medical facilities throughout Haiti and in 2009 provided the first solar powered Hospital system in Boucan Carre. Sadly, the earthquake took the lives of one of their own, Walt Ratterman and a Haitian colleague, Herb Kanski, who were working to install solar installations in the city.
Solar Cookers International: Have sent more than 200 solar cookers and water purification kits to be dispersed throughout Haiti and have on the ground trainers to teach people how to use them. A $40 donation will send one kit to a family today.
Intivation: Has teamed up with mobile carrier Digicell to donate 1000 solar powered cell phones to aid workers and officials in need.
Solar World Group: Has donated 10kW of PV panels to aid in water pumping and purification and has offered significant discounts to operate 25 other water stations throughout the city.
WorldWater and Solar Technologies Inc: Rescued an existing solar array from the rubble and rededicated it to purify 30,000 gallons of contaminated water a day. They are in the process of sending two more units for the same purpose.
Sun Ovens International: Has sent 270,000 meals and more than 900 solar ovens to refugee camps in Port Au Prince. They have also donated two industrial sized solar ovens for large scale food preparation.
Sol Inc: Has donated more than 100 solar lighting systems for streets, medical clinics, and aid stations throughout the city. They have also teamed up with Save The Children to establish a matching fund so more systems can be purchased.