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Communications and Marketing

Students educate Swazi region about sustainable energy

Four students who journeyed to Swaziland last summer on a mission to introduce sustainable energy resources and education to a rural health clinic returned with a story of triumph.

In a report submitted to Davis Projects for Peace, which funded the project, Kosova Kreka ’12 along with Davis UWC Scholars Nikita Kotecha ’13, Anica Lin ’13, and Katlin Sandvik ’12 use words like “successful” and “memorable” and “rewarding” to describe their experience in the Shiselweni region of the country from July 2-July 18.

The project involved installing solar panels and a solar geyser at Our Lady of Sorrows, a school and clinic near Hluti that serves hundreds of patients from surrounding areas. This equipment will provide the clinic with a more reliable, less costly energy source for properly storing medication.

“With a constant source of light and hot water, the clinic now is able to support and sustain the good health in the community, as well as outside of it,” the students write in their report. “Poor health leads to poor production and unrest in any society. By improving the facilities the clinic is able to operate at its optimum level and aid those in desperate need of healthcare.”

A second objective of the project was to educate the community, and in particular, the high school students. This proved to be more challenging than anticipated, as the team arrived in the midst of a month-long, nationwide teacher strike. Students still came to school, but attendance decreased daily. The Lake Forest foursome followed through as planned, though, with lessons on renewable energy, global warming, and the greenhouse effect; interactive quizzes; and activities, such as building solar toys.

“…they were thrilled to see that what they built actually worked,” they write. “We could see that they felt accomplished and inspired.”

The team documented their story on their Facebook page, and even though they are back on campus, they continue to reach out to supporters for help in expanding their project.

“One of my most memorable moments was when one of the helpers thanked us for what we were doing and told us that it was her first time to hear about solar and renewable energy,” Kotecha writes. “The most valuable part of our project was working with the students. It was extremely rewarding to see that they retained the information that we talked to them about and they were keen to learn more.”