Since 2014, I’ve been tutoring students of the Village Development School in Kampot Province, Cambodia. It started as a means of earning community service hours by Skyping with the students one hour every week. As time went by, however, I formed genuine bonds of friendship with the students. Last summer, I traveled to Cambodia and met them in person.
[That's me in the back wearing the blue "Clean Water" tee-shirt.]
Visiting Cambodia was a total culture shock to me. I learned that many of the students have no electricity or even running water at home. The school itself has dirt floors, and many of the students go to school barefoot.
One of my jobs was to help attach rudimentary walls to the wooden poles holding up the tin roof. I also helped with the installation of a water filtration system, and taught the students English. Spending time with them, and with the villagers, I realized that despite our vastly different circumstances, in many ways they were just like me.
[Above: a proud moment as we inaugurate the new water filtration system at VDS, summer, 2015]
Being there really opened my eyes to the way that billions of people live on this planet, and inspired me to start a new project: bring solar power to the students of the Village Development School.
Although VDS is connected to a power grid, the electricity is on for only a few hours every day. Power goes out without warning, and stays off for long periods. Installing a solar power system will provide a constant, reliable flow of electricity, allowing the students to study for longer hours, and have more stable access to the internet. With increased capacity, VDS will be able to add additional computers, A/V equipment, fans and other appliances. The quality of the education there will rise dramatically in a very short time.
In the months since my visit to Cambodia, I’ve done a lot of research on electrification of schools in the third world, and on technical aspects of solar power installations. In March, I presented my findings at the 2016 INTED Conference in Valencia, Spain (INTED2016 Proceedings, pgs. 1233-1240, ISSN 2340-1079).
Since then, I have studied the required system components, logistics and local requirements that must be met in order to make this project into a reality. After reviewing bids from several suppliers, I’ve calculated that we will need US$6000 to bring solar power to the Village Development School. My plan is to install this system on site this summer.
PLEASE GIVE WHATEVER YOU CAN TO TURN THE LIGHTS ON FOR THESE CHILDREN, AND BRING THE WORLD INTO THEIR CLASSROOM!!!
Your donations will greatly expand their horizons, and enable them to make dreams come true for themselves, their families and their community.
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