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Danelia Altamirano Nuñez is 60 years old and a member of a group of organised women. She lives in the community of Las Chinas and has never had electricity. That was until Trócaire partner ElectricAid provided her home with a solar panel.
“The solar panels help protect us,” Danelia says. “We’re all connected by phone now in the case of an emergency. We’re not using candles and kerosene anymore, which is damaging to our health. And we don’t have to walk three or four hours to pay to charge our cell phones.”
Danelia’s grandson, Christopher, demonstrates how the solar lighting system works in his home in Las Chinas. “Having light has made a big difference,” he says.
Danelia and the other women of the community commented that they would have to pay approximately 50 cents each time they wanted to charge their phones, in addition to spending valuable time walking to the nearest village. Sometimes, the people charging their phones would steal their batteries and replace them with old ones or even steal their memory cards.
Top Left: Engracia Neira Valladares demonstrates how the lighting system enables her to easily charge her phone. Top Right: Engracia with Danelia Altamirano Nuñez. Bottom: The women in Las Chinas offer their gratitude to ElectricAid, as all are now benefiting from solar- powered light. All Photos: Michael Solis.
“The extra time lets us do so many things,” Danelia says. “We can clean and get things ready in the morning when it’s dark. I used to have to cook with a flashlight under my neck, but now I can actually see what I’m doing. It makes a significant difference.”
“The panels are such a blessing,” she adds. “If a child in the community gets sick at night, we have light to be able to take care of them properly. And the kids have more time to do their homework. They can’t use the excuse anymore that it’s too dark to do their work. Now they have light!”
Danelia lives with her 67-year-old husband Bruno, who suffers from arthritis and serious knee problems. For him, having light makes walking around the house safer than it has ever been before.
For Danelia, one of the most important aspects of solar energy is that it gives the women more time to meet and discuss the matters that are important to them at community level. Before, the women would have to find a way to meet when there was light out, which was difficult to coordinate given their differing economic and domestic activities. Now, the women rotate among each of their homes for their meetings, which they are able to hold after the 6pm sunset thanks to their access to light.
“The solar panel isn’t a luxury for us,” Danelia says. “It’s a definitive way of responding to our needs. It is a blessing.”
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