We are getting close! Today was another very busy day in Cheeba. We are working on three tasks in parallel: conducting focus groups, wiring the data acquisition system (DAS), and erecting a tower for the DAS’s antenna. Sun Ray is nearing the end of their work, so on top of everything else, we need to work through our 70-point commissioning check list to ensure the kiosk is installed properly and will operate for years to come!
The DAS is wired in the kiosk’s control room. The control room is about the size of a bathroom. It’s an important room; inside are the batteries (eight), the charge controller, inverter, and the DAS. It gets crowded (and hot!) there in a flash.
In order to improve the cellular connection of the DAS, we needed to mount an antenna as high as possible. We are on design number three, and are getting close to having a solution. Our general approach is to use three 10-foot long sections of pipe coupled together, cemented into place and tied to a tree for added support. Tricky, but not impossible!
Topher, Julia, and Clement (Caritas Monze) spent most of the day conducting several focus groups. The focus groups let us learn from the community in a group setting. They are more open-ended than the household surveys we have been conducting. These focus groups help us understand some of the other ways that the community could benefit from electricity access. High on their priority list is night lighting for the clinic. Right now, the clinic workers use candles or their cell phones for light to treat patients in the evening. The general lack of electricity in Cheeba also contributes to the high turnover of clinic workers as they leave for communities with improved infrastructure. It is possible that the kiosk could eventually supply the clinic, but because the clinic is far away, running wires to it may not make the most sense. Instead, a separate system could be installed. A great thing about KWH is that we stay committed to the communities we work with. Our team is already considering options for the clinic in the future.
Towards the end of the day, Sun Ray completed their work. Lights came on in Cheeba for the first time! How did we mark the occasion? With an outdoor movie screening of course! Children and adults gathered around the outside of the kiosk to watch the movie (Jungle Book). It was a heart-warming scene. As we left Cheeba, children were outside playing late into the night in the glow of the electric lights.