Solar Lights in Dominican Republic
The availability of electricity in the vicinity of Consuelo and the countryside is confined to the towns and communities close to the main highway. Even then the electricity is only available for no more than 6 hours at a time, usually from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Our solar light project supplies light to homes in the countryside where electricity is not available. We have installed lights in houses accessible to electricity but the occupants have no means to afford it. The small communities of cane cutters earn only when the cane is cut in the vicinity of their homes, and even if there is work, the pay is pitiful and hardly sufficient to support a family. The solar light system provides 3 LED lights powered by a small solar panel and a 12 volt battery. The only item that needs replacement from normal use is the battery. Our experience to date is that the life span of the battery is in excess of 5 years. As it is a standard motorcycle battery, it can be purchased in the Dominican Republic.
The system supplies no cost lighting to homes, replacing kerosene lamps and candles that were safety and health hazards. All year long darkness occurs at 6:30 p.m. so the system has enabled a new evening lifestyle to the recipients. The value of the system is reflected in the length of the waiting list of persons requesting the system. Because the number of installations is limited to around 40 each year, some people have patiently waited for 2 years for their systems.
We install an average of 40+ systems each year but the waiting list is more than double that. To date we have installed more than 350 systems in areas of the countryside where there is no electrical supply.
The impacts are immediate and many from cost savings, safety and life changing for all family members. This is reflected in the list of persons requesting the systems each year.
Most of the houses in the country are dark inside even in the daytime. Windows are kept shut to keep out the heat. After an installation is completed, the occupants of the house are shown the switches and them system is demonstrated. The reactions are alone an indication of the value of the lights. We have also installed lights in many of the small churches in these communities, allowing the use of the facility during evenings.