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Bethany Gray Bethany is the RISING Co-Director in Haiti, building relationships on a local level and helping the local program thrive and grow on a regular basis.

One of the first things the RISING Resource Center needs to efficiently serve our students is electricity. It almost seems strange to say because in the States, having access to electricity typically isn’t a question a person is required to ask.

Electricity is relatively easy to come by as long as you set up your account and pay your bill. In Haiti, you can have an account and pay your bill and still only receive electricity a very small percentage of the time. The truth is that in Haiti, there is a severe problem with consistent power. There simply is not enough for everyone to have constant and consistent power. This means that you never know when you might get power. Recently, in our neighborhood of Carrefour, we have gone up to 5 or 6 days without receiving any electricity. Our battery backup system does help provide power for a few days after receiving electricity but it is still reliant on the electricity from the grid to recharge.

How can we run a program with resources like the internet and access to computers if we don’t have power?

Here’s the good news that we are so excited to share, just a few weeks ago, we installed 6 solar panels on the roof thus solving our electricity problems. When the sun is out, doing its thing, our solar panels collect the light and charge our batteries.

This means that our students have consistent access to the internet, can use the computers, run the fans to cool themselves off in the heat of the day and drink cold water from the water cooler.

Constant and consistent power means that we can pump water up to the tank on our roof giving us running water for our sinks and toilets. Reliable electricity means that the RISING Resource Center is a safe space for our students to come, access technology, do homework, charge their phones and socialize with their friends. Harnessing the power of the sun, which is in abundant supply, is a game-changer in a place like Haiti and for a program like RISING. We are thankful for the privilege to have access to solar panels because they are not within reach of so many people here. With a little help from the sun we now can remove at least one more barrier preventing our students from accessing the resources and technology they need to succeed in school.

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