Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The projects are just flooowing now.

The new computer center in the local high school
Update to Builders Beyond Borders and people back at home who donated or fundraised for the "idea" i had of a computer center in the local high school. It is a reality! Over the past five months or so I have worked with an Environmental Awareness volunteer on a project to turn one classroom of the local high school into a Library/Computer Center. Over the past few weeks we have been working on construction in the classroom-reframing a division wall, building a computer bank, fixing locks, building bookshelves etc. Just two days ago I had the same company that helped with my solar projects come up and install constant electricity with a charger/inverter in the classroom. And now the room is now pretty much usable! It was amazing to me to see such a rapid change, being used to projects like my aqueduct and community center! The high school is now equipped with a library stocked with books, a couple big round tables, a couple small kids tables, some chalkboards, a world map, and a computer bank with 8 laptops that will be usable all the time thanks to the inversor! This is literally the biggest computer center around, probably within two hours travelling! The local pueblo has some internet cafes but they all have much older computers and none have as many. So my neck of the woods just got a lot cooler! Computers, internet, and all of that is popular here like it was about 10-15 years ago in the states-everyone loves it and knows it is important but very few know how to do anything with a computer. So now they have a chance. Although I am leaving, the other volunteer still has some time and is excited to try to be a librarian/tech. consultant for the next months in the library she made! Take a look at a couple pictures!
On a complete nerd level I feel really lucky to have dealt with so many diverse energy systems in this country. I put a solar panel on my house and got to live with it for the majority of my service, realizing why Renewable Energy isn't always great for everyone, especially in a rainy country with a lot of poverty. I got to design a small solar-powered community center, and then used it to drill holes in steel bars with an electric drill-previously impossibly in my community! I got to design a solar-powered water pump system and see it working, without batteries! I also got to design small solar electrification projects. I got to experiment with small 10 watt panels and tiny batteries to power one lightbulb and also got to install big 55 watt panels with a larger battery and a small inverter to send luz longer distances and power 3-5 lightbulbs. And now I got to work first-hand with the reality of most Dominican households with luz: an inversor and back-up batteries. Even though I didn't get the chance to work with Hydroelectricity in a country where so much is possible, I am really lucky to have had the opportunity to do and see so much. One thing I learned about Energy and Water in a poor country like this: it sucks, simply put. You have to go way above and beyond the effort you might spend in the US to get a service that is far from reliable. But in a country where almost nothing is reliable, it just fades into the background with all of the other development problems. At least I know that my community with have water and light, and the high school with have a very powerful attraction for students.

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