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Let’s Light a Village!

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IMG_1624Looking for a charitable holiday gift idea?  Sirona is collecting funds to build Unit 16, a solar powered generating station that recharges portable battery kits for homes for a village in Haiti.  It takes $25,000 to build and deploy a unit that serves 100 homes for ten years.  Homes pay for the service, about $6.25 per month (which is what they are currently paying for kerosene), so the equipment is maintained and will last for ten years.  more

Rural Electricity: Business Can Be Pleasure!

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It has been a really busy few days in Haiti. We have traveled to several of our solar stations and had meetings with present Operators and future Operators who make a business of renting portable energy packs (in Haiti they are called Ti Soley for Little Sun). These packs provide light for homes and the ability to charge cell phones or run small devices like radios. The meetings went very well and we left the countryside encouraged by the customers we met along the way. As we were leaving school let out and the kids surrounded the car to say hello. It makes me so happy to know that many of these kids are now able to study by electric light instead of kerosene giving them a brighter today, and tomorrow. This is why we do what we do!

Here is a shot from inside the car looking out… It makes me smile.

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Successful STAR-TIDES Event in D.C.

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IMG_3589The government was shut down all week but that did not slow traffic at the 7th Annual STAR-TIDES Demo at Ft. McNair in Washington D.C.  This event draws humanitarian organizations, businesses, military and academia all interested in the core question: how do we promote sustainable solutions in stressed (post war/post disaster/impoverished) communities worldwide? more

Sirona Gearing up for STAR-TIDES Field Demos

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Lighting kit at STAR TIDES demo 2012

October is an excitng month for Sirona because we participate in two STAR TIDES field demonstrations in Washington DC.  STAR-TIDES is a Department of Defense funded program that stands for “Sharing To Accelerate Research-Transformative Innovation for Development and Emergency Support”.  The program promotes sustainable support to stressed populations – post-war, post-disaster, or impoverished, in foreign or domestic contexts, for short-term or long-term periods.   This year the first demonstration is at Ft. McNair from Oct. 1-4 and is open to the public, the second is at the Pentagon from Oct. 6-9.

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Advocacy Work: Pretty Girls in Pretty Dresses

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Sirona has been helping the Episcopal women of the Northern California Arch Dioscese get dresses to  little girls in Haiti for several years now.  Nearly 600 dresses have been made by these Episcopal women and deliverd to Sirona to Haiti for distribution.  Due to our strong networks throughout rural Haiti it is not difficult for us to deliver the dresses. 

The advocacy work we do generally takes the form of connecting resources to children in communities we work with.  For us, this work is joyful.  It fills us up, and cheers us up when the other work gets hard.  Advocacy projects don't feel like work… they feel like sharing an afternoon with a bunch of very happy little girls.  After that we always remember who we really are working for, and we are motivated to take back on the other issues and charge forward again.

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IEEE Retrofit Progress

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IMG_3143Portable battery kits, or "Ti Soley" kits bring affordable electricity into the homes of Sirona's customers to replace kerosene.  The program has been very successful and resulted in long waiting lists in rural Haiti.  Unfortunately the first people to use equipment are also the first to find its flaws.  The kits are designed with a low voltage disconnect (LVD) that protects the battery from being fully depleted to extend the life of batteries.  Unfortunately there was a flaw in the original LVD so we brought hundreds of kits back to Port au Prince for a retrofit run by the IEEE.  A newly designed LVD was put into the kits, all kits were repaired to perfect working order, and now they are being redeployed to our solar charging stations.

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The retrofit was a massive endeavor.  Collecting kits, storing them, transporting them to the retrofit facility, and man hours required to test and retrofit every kit.  Sirona owes a great deal of thanks to many people who helped with this project.  We are especially grateful to the IEEE for seeing the retrofit through.  Sirona's Operators have patiently waited for repairs and are excited to see their inventories rising again.  This was a setback, but Sirona is ramping back up and preparing to quadruple the number of homes we serve within 18 months.