SOLAR in NEPAL:
Neither the remote location nor rain could deter
the hills and other volunteers from installing a
40-watt module atop Waku’s health post.
34 July/August 2011 SOLAR TODAY solartoday.org
“Ek, Dui, Tin…!” On the count of three, solar-powered fluorescent ube lamps switched on for the first time in each room of the village health post. About 40 of us cheered as the
post’s four rooms, entryway and small restroom
were illuminated in the evening’s gathering dusk.
Afterward, seated around the walls of the largest
room — used for community meetings, health
education and training, as well as an exam room
— we shared tea and cookies in celebration of
our work together.
During the day, my teenaged son, Mason,
and I had worked with a team of 15 to 20 local
partners and volunteers, contributing to a chaotic, but effective, swirl of tools, wires, lamps,
switches and, to stand on, benches and chairs.
A log spanning the gap from the steep hillside
behind the building to its corrugated metal roof
served as a ladder. Hand over hand up this lad-
Copyright © 2011 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.
Planning the installation Logistics
Across the globe roughly 1.5 billion people,
or about one of every five, still live without access
to electricity for their households and other basic
needs such as education and primary health care
(International Energy Agency, 2009). Last year,
during a six-month sabbatical, I returned to Nepal,
where I had worked and studied in the past, to
reconnect with a place and people. For Mason
and my teenaged daughter, Mariah, who attended
an international school in Kathmandu during our
visit, it was also a cultural opportunity.
I have a longstanding interest in supporting
economic development and the use of renew-
able energy in rural communities. Before leav-
ing for Nepal, Mason and I decided to spend a
portion of our time abroad working with one or
more photovoltaic projects. Before departing, we
researched possible partner organizations and
raised just under $6,000 through the generosity
and interests of employers, family and friends.
We had decided to focus some of our attention on Lahachowk, a village in central Nepal
where I had lived and worked in the early 1990s.
Before we left the United States, we also made
connections with the Himalayan Light Foundation ( hlf.org.np). HLF is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that has run successful
solar programs for more than 15 years in Nepal
der, we passed the 80-watt photovoltaic module
and mounting pole. Tools, in short supply, were
passed back and forth amid chatter, an occasional raised voice and plenty of laughter.
At the end of the ceremonies, we headed
down a small trail five minutes to the village of
Nele Bazzar, Nepal. Behind us, the entryway
light remained switched on, shining above the
village through the night as a symbol of community progress and pride.