Wednesday, June 10, 2015

They see the light in La Libertad!

After almost three months without a post -I AM BACK!  Much has been going on with the project.  We now have an office in Leticia.  Our Internet connection is very poor, the main reason for the lack of posting.  In July I will go back to the USA to fundraise, work, and plan.

One of the most successful infrastructure projects we have had with the project was the effort to bring electricity safely to over 100 people. The villagers mostly use electricity to power one or two compact fluorescent light bulbs, a TV, or a radio (sometimes all these things at once). The hours of electricity are from 3 pm until 9 pm, daily.

The electricity is supplied to the villages by a business named ENAM. They have a contract with the government to supply subsidized electrical power using a large diesel generator. The village has grown to have five main “streets” which radiate outward from the school buildings, which are the largest structures in the village. Four of the streets were connected to the grid properly, by heavy wires connected between 30 foot high wooden or cement poles. The fifth street had been connected to the grid by the villagers, using lightweight wire, old household extension cords, and savaged power cords from broken appliances. These were pieced together, bit-by-bit, as each house found the wire to connect to the adjoining house.

In all, 14 houses representing over 100 people were connected in this fashion. Whenever there was a high-use device (like when a person attempted to connect a clothing iron) the wire would start to burn at is weakest link.

Rain would also cause problems. The water would cause short circuits, knocking out the power. At other times people would receive electrical shocks when touching wet surfaces around the connections.

Sometimes the wires were strung so lowly that people would have to duck when passing. Children would frequently play around theses live, low-hanging wires. The wires were joined by being twisted together and then wrapped with a bit of old plastic bag.

We worked with the village to submit a letter to ENAM. They arrived within 5 weeks to do the work. The village had to provide four 30 foot wooden power poles. For three days before the scheduled installation date we found, cut and carrier the poles to the sites. The Amazon Pueblo project provided the money for the gasoline, oil and refreshments needed to cut the poles.

During the installation one of the workmen from the energy company spoke with a villager. He said, in passing, that if it were not for the foreigner who submitted the request, the company would not have done the work. At last, a small success!

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