By: Jacob Seyle and William Lee, January 2015
This trip was a follow-up trip to William Lee’s One Million Lights project in Terrier Rouge, Haiti in 2013. Will previously distributed 50 d.light S2 solar lanterns to 4 schools in Terrier Rouge and neighboring villages. Will not only successfully delivered the lanterns, but brought back knowledge of ways we could further help schools and communities in the area.
This year, Will and I coordinated with One Million Lights and Maggie Noel, our host in Terrier Rouge, to determine how to best serve the needs of the schools. We chose this year to deliver 2 d.light D20 solar systems and 3 larger BBOXX BB 17 solar systems. Both models consisted of 3 LED bulbs with on/off switches, a portable battery pack, and a portable solar panel. With these systems, the battery can be charged during the day and power the lights for use at night. The battery also had USB ports and came with universal adapters, which could charge electronics and phones of almost any model.
The first school to receive lights was in the nearby village of Paulette. It was apparent that this village had a great deal of need. There were four rooms at the school building which were very dimly lit even in midday. After serving a meal of rice and beans to more than 120 children prepared by Maggie Noel, we taught several village leaders how to use and care for the D20 light systems. Paulette received the two D20 solar lights that day, and showed their gratitude for this much-needed resource.
The second school to receive lights was Juchereau, a small mountain village southwest of Terrier Rouge. We picked up the Pastor of the village along the way as we drove to Juchereau; he was already very pleased to meet us and excited about the lights. When we arrived, many children greeted us with smiling faces. Will and I were introduced to the Pastor’s brother who was the school leader, along with several young men who taught at the school. We demonstrated to them one of the BBOXX BB 17 solar systems. They were very intrigued and made sure they fully understood the instructions. Although there was a language barrier, the smiles and laughter we exchanged were enough to show us that they were truly thankful and happy to have received the gift of light for their school. Before we left, the Pastor shook our hands and told us “thank you and bless you.”
The final school to receive lights was Ouvray. This village was tucked deep into the base of the mountains south of Terrier Rouge. The main building in the village was a church that also served as the school. They received a BBOXX 17 system, which was very well suited for the open space of the building. The lights were given to Deacon De and Pastor Roland, principals for the roughly 100 students served by the school. They sent their blessing and thanks to One Million Lights for making this gift of solar lighting possible.
Our final BBOXX BB 17 system was given to Pastor Mark and the Terrier Rouge Secondary School. This system was given for the use of their growing school, but also as an educational tool. Because of their prior experience with the d.light S2 lanterns, they wanted to not only utilize the lights but teach the students about solar energy and how the systems produced light. The school and church of Terrier Rouge coordinate regular outreach and service projects in surrounding villages. Pastor Mark plans to use this BB 17 system to spread the knowledge of solar lights and provide them to a school in need in the future.
A personal thanks to Maggie Noel for welcoming us into her home, and to all those we met along the way and supported us in the fundraising stages of this project. The project was a resounding success. By providing clean, renewable lighting to these schools, we have made an immeasurable difference in the lives of 450 students and their families.