Haiti (MNN) — In a country where roughly 20 percent of the population is estimated to have access to electricity, Haiti’s main power grid is overtaxed. Most households, businesses, and ministries commonly deal with three to four hours of power outages per day.
Carrafour power plant in Haiti. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
As a result, many people resort to traditional generators. The last estimates indicated more than 60 percent of electricity generation relies on imported diesel, charcoal, or wood for fuel. Burning these carbon fuels adds to the air pollution, deforestation, and safety issues with which this Caribbean nation struggles.
However, solar power inverters are fast becoming the way of life. Haiti’s government has enthusiastically embraced solar and wind energy as cheap and reliable sources of energy, replacing the burning of carbon and the noise of diesel generators. With solar power, around-the-clock electricity will be a first for those who can access it.
For Haiti With Love’s Eva DeHart says their ministry has progressed to the point where electricity is crucial to keeping the wheels going. “We had the opportunity to be the first mission in the north to get solar. When we put in the solar panels, then we discontinued Haiti Power, which was costing us $500 a month, whether we got any power from it or not.”
Diesel is also very expensive. By converting to solar power, “we also were not spending $1,000 a month on diesel. On average, we’re saving $1,500 per month by going solar and it’s so much more energy efficient.” DeHart says the funds they save from fuel and electricity costs go toward burn clinic supplies at a time when burn cream costs have been steadily increasing.
(Photo courtesy of For Haiti With Love)
For Haiti With Love’s power system has relied for several years on a solar-powered inverter. The batteries are charged by the solar panels when there is adequate sun, which is most of the time. Without sun, the ministry team starts the big generator and the batteries are then charged from the generator. No matter how they are charged, they power the headquarters, with the inverter assuring no brown outs and no power outages which is easier on appliances and electronics.
Because the batteries are getting older, they are only holding power from the solar until about 10 p.m. which means running the generator until daylight. Keeping the power flowing “keeps the clinic functioning. When you’re dealing with burn patients in the tropics without air conditioning, the fans are really important. The lighting is very important. So power is very important to the clinic, and we have meds that need to be kept refrigerated.”
The ministry is looking at replacing 12 batteries at $190 each which comes to $2,280 USD total. DeHart says she put out the appeal in their newsletter and on Facebook, but decided to ask the wider MNN audience for help.
“I instantly got one gal who sent a $200 check for one battery. Then, the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Women came up with five more batteries. So, I’ve got six batteries paid for and need six batteries to go.”
(Photo courtesy of For Haiti With Love)
What’s the connection to the Gospel? For Haiti With Love’s approach to that starts with showing God’s love by following the Lord’s commands in Matthew 25:35-40 to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and shelter the homeless. The staff gives freely of God’s love and gifts to help make life better for the poorest of the poor in Northern Haiti.
When asked ‘why are you doing this?’ they are ready with the answer ‘because of Christ’, and then explain the personal relationship that comes with following Him as Savior. The faith walk of the ministry team speaks loudly for FHWL. The residents of Cap Haitien know the reputation of the team as Jesus followers, and trust them because of it. That’s why the priority of For Haiti With Love is to serve consistently and to serve well. Electricity is just one part of the whole picture of their outreach in Haiti, but it plays a key role.
DeHart asks not only for prayer, but to consider what you can do to help them reach this very attainable goal. Click here for details.