The University of Notre Dame Haiti Program will spend less money to light and power its operations thanks to the addition of 16 solar panels, the work of a non-for-profit foundation led by two 1985 Notre Dame graduates.
The Let’s Share the Sun Foundation, based in Troy, N.Y., completed the second phase of a solar installation at the Residence Filariose in Leogane, Haiti, where four panels were installed earlier this year. The solar panels are now generating enough power to shut the diesel generator off during the day. The Residence Filariose serves as a training facility for the local community and guesthouse for visiting researchers focused on eradicating lymphatic filariasis.
Co-founder Nancy Brennan-Jordan (a 1985 Notre Dame graduate), Gib Gailius (also a 1985 graduate), Bernadette Jordan, and Notre Dame sophomore Annemarie Schwendler witnessed and filmed the installation in July after several months of very detailed planning to get the solar panels into Haiti.
Program administrator Wesley Pierre said, “Once we heard that we will have three kilowatts of energy from the solar panels, I was so happy to receive that message… because every three days, we need to buy gas [for the diesel generator] for almost 200 U.S. dollars.”
Brennan-Jordan explained, “The whole process of our solar installation is what makes us different. We successfully installed a high quality 3kw solar system to support the inspiring work of the Notre Dame Haiti Program and at the same time with the leadership of Richard Hansen and the Soluz team trained four local Haitians in the process.
“This team then went on to install two large panels on a rural Leogane school last month. This rural school will now be able to have electricity for the first time and provide afternoon classes, doubling their student body to 240 students. We also met with the Mayor of Leogane during our visit and respect and honor the local community plan for the rebuild of Leogane. I have the confidence that the Residence Filariose solar install and the first solar school in rural Leogane will be sustained and maintained by the local community. This empowering ‘train the trainer’ model is the key to our long lasting impact.”
Soluz was instrumental in acquiring the solar panels and leading the installation effort. Richard Hansen formed Soluz decades ago to empower local communities to gain access to affordable, sustainable energy.
“Since the Notre Dame facility was built in 2001 to support our research and national public health program in Haiti, solar energy has been a dream of ours,” says Notre Dame Haiti Program Manager Sarah Craig. “Words cannot express our thanks and gratitude to solar expert Richard Hansen, and fellow Notre Dame alumni Nancy and Bill Jordan. Their personal and professional commitment to our Notre Dame work in Haiti exemplifies the university’s mission to ‘…create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good…’. Heartfelt thanks for living out the Word."
The Let’s Share the Sun Foundation continues to install solar in the poorest parts of the world while establishing education links at home and abroad. For more information, visit www.LetsShareTheSun.org.