Cheeba Implementation: Day 6
Whew! We ended up working about a 10-hour day yesterday so that we can finish our work today. The group hit the road for Cheeba by 7:00, arrived at 7:45, and start working. At 9:30 the kiosk’s opening ceremony started. The opening ceremony started with a song and dance by the women’s group, and then several speeches by the local dignitaries. Fortunately, the speeches were translated from Tonga to English for our benefit. The speakers included the Cheeba headman, the parish chairperson, a spokesperson from the women’s group, and the council secretary. The spokesperson for the women’s group emphatically declared, “Today a dream has come true!"
Solomon from Caritas and Henry from KiloWatts for Humanity also spoke. A common theme in the remarks was praising the industriousness of the Cheeba community. The community is known for its hard work, strong leadership, and eagerly adopting technologies that can improve their lives. The turnout from the community at the opening was inspiring! The ceremony ended with a ribbon-cutting by the council secretary.
The kiosk was officially opened for business. Its offerings will surely expand as time goes on, but on the first day the most popular item sold was cold beverages---water, juice, and soda. There is nothing like having a chilled drink under the hot Zambian sun - what a luxury! Also popular were haircuts (offered for about $0.50 each). Most Zambian men wear their hair very short. Being able to have their haircut locally with an electric clipper makes a big difference.
In the near future, the kiosk will offer sewing services and will make school uniforms. Currently, no one in Cheeba has experience using a sewing machine, so some basic training will be provided.
After the ceremony, which lasted over three hours, our team went back to work. Kirk, along with help from some of the young men in the community, set up the antenna tower (which ended up being about 25 feet tall). Jeremiah, Julia, and Taylor finished installing the data acquisition system, letting us see minute-by-minute data from the solar system. Topher, done with surveys and focus groups, photographed the day’s events. Henry went through basic technical training with the women’s group and other community members.
With the installation portion of the project wrapped up, the team bid Cheeba farewell. It is inspiring to see how much access to electricity meant to the Cheeba community. There is a real sense that they are viewing the kiosk not as a gift, but an opportunity. At KWH, we strive to give a “hand up”, not a “hand out.” Our program in Cheeba doesn’t end with installation. Although the kiosk is officially owned and operated by the community, we will be monitoring its operation from Seattle. We also have, and will continue to raise, funds to support the expansion of the program. For example, making solar lighting kits available to households and potentially wiring the clinic. Through our grant program, the women’s group will be able to apply for funds to expand the kiosk’s services. KWH also maintains a sustainability fund to help pay for replacement and safe disposal of equipment should it fail prematurely.
You can help support us as we continue to work with Cheeba through a financial donation at www.kilowattsforhumanity.org/donate and by making us your charity of choice on Amazon Smile (0.5% of your qualified purchases are donated by Amazon to us).