Stacie wanted to harness the energy of the sun to help brighten lives and she did that in Nyamagongo
July 2013, Nyamagongo, Shirati Tanzania
Stacie Vance, Novato, California
"I worked with REACH Shirati for six weeks during the summer of 2013 as a UC Berkeley student in the Global Poverty and Practice Minor. That summer’s focus was a photovoltaic and solar energy project in partnership with Bruce Gardiner of Solar Roots. I gained valuable experience and insight into not only the work and dynamic of REACH Shirati, but also into the impacts of harnessing the energy of the sun to bring sustainable light and power to the classrooms of Tina’s Pre and Primary School.
"The goals of the solar project were to provide electricity to the school for nighttime security, evening classroom lighting, a reliable source of power to prepare for the arrival of laptops, and to provide solar cooking techniques for the teachers and the Nyamagongo Women’s Group.
"After the solar panel project was complete, when the time came to flip the switch, a wave of emotion and relief passed through all of us as the lights shone brightly and we realized we had achieved what we set out to accomplish. The students at Tina’s would be all the better off for it.
"Our experiments with solar cooking were mostly successful, I had the opportunity to take charge of the project toward the end of my stay in Shirati, which meant I was the one to present the first solar-cooked pot of rice to the teachers. I was nervous about how this unorthodox cooking technique would be received, but I soon breathed a sigh of relief and laughed when the one criticism I heard was that I should have salted the rice first!
"One of the great things about that trip was that the volunteers had the freedom to create their own side-projects, such as re-installing a tire swing for the playground and fashioning two soccer goals which required learning how to hand weave the nets, and building a new bookcase for the teacher’s store room.
"I am ever thankful to have traveled with this group, met the inspiring teachers of Tina’s, been welcomed into the home of the Chacha family, and helped create the sustainable improvements to the school which will bring increased safety and growth for the students, and community of Nyamagongo/Shirati."
"...a wave of emotion and relief passed through all of us as the lights shone brightly."