As we make the last fundraising push before implementation of this great project, we want to share with you an updated Solarize Ghana project Video that explains what we are doing and has some nice shots of the SolBus that will be our home for 10 weeks. Enjoy!
Friends of Volunteers for International Development and Aid (VIDA),
If you are like many of us at VIDA you are hoping for a more just, equitable, and healthy world in 2014. There are major challenges ahead and the need is great in the regions in which we work. West Africa is one example, where lack of access to basic electricity dramatically undermines health, limits opportunities for education and development, and reduces a family's potential to rise up out of poverty.
Volunteers for International Development and Aid is helping implement on-the-ground solutions to pressing social and environmental issues with the solar panels for off grid community development projects, at gatherings with chiefs and partner non-profits, and on a very limited but efficiently managed budget. Our solar projects in Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Mali are shining examples of what is possible when like-minded people devote time, energy, and money to making the world a better place.
As you know, there is still so much more work to do, and we can only do it with your support. This holiday season, we are raising the final $30,000 we need to bring clean, renewable energy to ten schools and medical clinics in Ghana. With your donation, we’ll bring off-grid solar energy to thousands of people in West Africa. We’ll light up classrooms all over Ghana so more kids can go to school and so more adults can learn the life-enriching skill of reading. We’ll also bring electricity and lighting to medical clinics so nurses and doctors can give patients life-saving care in the darkness of night.
Your generous donation helps us to create the kind of world we all want to live in. We’ll put every dollar of your tax-deductible donation to good work, whether you give $5 for a light switch in a medical clinic or classroom, $50 for LED light bulbs, $500 to dedicate a seat on the SolBus, or $5,000 to fund an entire community solar array. You will receive a receipt for your 100% tax deductible donation for your upcoming 2013 taxes. VIDA is a registered US 501(c)3.
VIDA is very proud to report the opening of our new school in rural Liberia, West Africa. This is a project very near and dear to our hearts. VIDA volunteers first traveled to Varney Town, Liberia in early 2011 with our partners ActionAid Liberia. We were saddened to see the conditions of the regional school (pictured, left) and very quickly became motivated and dedicated to building a new school (pictured, right) that doesn't have to shut down every time it is windy or rainy.
This project exemplifies VIDA’s strong commitment to international partnership and advocacy. We worked with our Ghanaian partners from DIVOG www.divog.org and ActionAid www.actionaidusa.org/liberia on community involvement, construction management, and in-country advocacy for Liberian government educational support. We traveled on seven occasions over the past two and a half years to support the project. We raised awareness and funds on our website. We held a fundraiser in Boston, hosted by VIDA coordinator Mike Devlin. So many volunteers worked so hard and now our ambitious dream has come true, the school is open and attended by not just the children of Varney Town, but also children from ten surrounding villages. While this is a great victory for international collaboration and we are so pleased to see students finally having access to education, our job is not finished. Varney Town is way off the electric grid. We want to provide lighting in the school so it can be opened at night. We want to support the communities request to have a space for children to study at night as well as a place to hold adult education classes, gender equality curriculum and more. We can do this by installing solar panels on the school and providing lighting and power as we have done at many schools in other developing countries on the past. If you would like to support the advancement of the Varney Town School, you can contact us at info@thevida,org or click donate button on any of the pages on our website www.thevida.org/donatefor a tax deductible donation.
Please be on the lookout for our upcoming Year End Newsletter, Solarize Ghana updates, and future blog posts for the many projects VIDA volunteers tirelessly dedicate their time to.
At the Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in San Jose California VIDA participates in discussions involving the emergence of economically sustainable solar power installations in developing countries. VIDA also had the opportunity to meet one of our amazing partners, Mou Riiny, a former ‘Lost Boy’ from South Sudan. While VIDA and Mou continue to develop our partnership, Mou has started his own solar business in South Sudan that has garnered great results. Mou’s start-up enterprise, SunGate Solar, provides poor villagers with electricity they can afford. As SunGate scales over the next few years, many rural South Sudanese will be the direct beneficiaries of the electricity delivered as well as the training and jobs created to grow and sustain the business. This is a model VIDA believes in and supports.
VIDA Executive Director meets with partner Mou Riiny to discuss future collaborations.
VIDA volunteers, coordinators, and partners work together to deliver a much needed wheel chair from the United States to a small village in rural Sierra Leone. VIDA’s founding principles of partnership, friendship, and coordination have led to a successful delivery of a wheel chair to our good friend Saffa who lives in a war wounded and amputee village in Sierra Leone. (To learn more about Saffa’s story, follow the link below and watch the middle portion of the video.)
VIDA Coordinators Carly and Dave Lettero have twice visited the small village outside Kenema, Sierra Leone where Saffa calls home. The trips involved the installation of solar panels on a new school in the village and then a second trip to install solar power and lighting to the teachers quarters. Dave and Carly were befriended by an always smiling young man named Saffa who suffered an amputated leg as a child in the country’s tragic civil war. Saffa, although missing one leg was always optimistic, smiling, and playing with the other young people of the village. The Lettero’s were saddened to hear that Saffa recently lost his remaining leg and decided to do something about it. Getting a wheel chair from the US to Sierra Leone can be quite difficult but with VIDA’s network they knew it could be accomplished.
The Lettero’s first purchased and sent the wheel chair to VIDA Coordinator Kathryn Sonnie and Courtney Wood who were about to take a VIDA trip to Liberia for a new VIDA school opening. In Liberia Kathryn and Courtney met with VIDA partner Mildred Khalil from Engineers Without Borders- Sierra Leone. After the school opening Mildred rode public transportation back home to Sierra Leone with the wheel chair on the roof of the bus. As the bus passed near the amputee village on the way to Freetown, Mildred was able to deliver the wheelchair to another VIDA partner Mo Khalil who eventually delivered the wheel chair to Saffa!
Well done to everyone involved in this endeavor. You have dramatically improved the life of an individual living thousands of miles away who could have easily been forgotten. Whether VIDA projects serve thousands or just one, we mean to make a positive impact in the world and this is a great example.
We are happy to report that "Large Marge", our endearing term for the SolBus (our mobile solar workshop while we are in Ghana) has arrived on African soil. More updates to come. Please follow us here and on our Facebook page.
Listen to this clip of VIDA's Executive Director David Levine getting interviewed by Jerome McDonnell on Worldview about the Solarize Ghana Project on the best public radio station in the land WBEZ Chicago (600,000 listeners/week). We hope the added publicity will help us reach our ultimate project fundraising goal! http://m.soundcloud.com/wbez-worldview/road-tripping-across-ghana-for/
Yesterday was the summer solstice, which of course is the longest day of the year, so it seemed like an apropos day for the SolBus to arrive at the international shipping port in Bayonne, New Jersey.
International shipping regulations require vehicles to be empty when they ship, so as soon as Dave Lettero arrived at the port in Jersey, he had to unpack all of the Solarize Ghana gear into a shipping container. Once the shipping container was locked and signed off on, Dave drove the empty bus to another huge parking lot and got in line with hundreds of other vehicles that are ready to make the trans-Atlantic voyage. We are hoping there will be enough space on the next boat, leaving June 24, for the SolBus. We’ll keep you posted!
SolBus at the international shipping port in Bayonne, New Jersey with the Statue of Liberty and the Freedom Tower in the background.
Dave Lettero with the fully packed SolBus before he drive it to the port.
At the port all of the Solarize Ghana gear was emptied into a shipping container through the back door of the bus.
It was an incredible journey from Oregon to Nevada to Nebraska to Illinois to Ohio to Pennsylvania. Our favorite part was meeting all of you and sharing the Solarize Ghana story. We’ve posted your photos on our Facebook page and featured some of them in the Don't Skimp on the 'Mallow video.
In about a month, we’ll reunite with the SolBus in Ghana and with our partners at Disaster Volunteers of Ghana (DIVOG). We’ll be bringing the “I Love Solarize Ghana” collage with us to Ghana, and we’d love to add your photo! We invite you to make your own sign, take a photo, and send it to us email@example.com.