KiloWatts for Humanity (KWH) and Caritas Monze, the rural development branch of the Diocese of Monze in Zambia, work in collaboration to bring sustainable electricity to rural communities within this sub-Saharan nation. We recently had an opportunity to sit down with Father Zulu, Caritas Monze’s new director of development. Fr. Zulu joined Caritas Monze in 2019, saying “Since I left my position as a parish priest to join Caritas Monze, I have seen the completion of some incredible projects. We go into communities and implement power projects, water projects, all sorts of projects. It’s so exciting to see how households in these communities have improved.”
Two projects where Caritas Monze and KWH worked together recently include the developing of solar kiosks in Cheeba and Kanchomba. Fr. Zulu doesn’t hesitate to celebrate the good that KWH is doing in these communities. “The solar kiosks in Cheeba and Kanchomba have brought with them economic improvements never before seen in these once marginalized areas. Community members now have access to refrigeration, storage, electricity to charge devices. They now have the power to illuminate a dark room so students living in these communities can study in the evening. The differences are palpable.”
After being slowed for nearly two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Caritas Monze and KWH are looking to move forward with multiple projects in 2023. Word has gotten out about the economic and social good the solar kiosks have done in Cheeba and Kanchomba. Now, the residents of Ntanga and Hambelele are eager to see solar energy come to their communities.
“Our sights are set on bringing renewable solar energy to two more Zambian communities: Ntanga and Hambelele,” says Fr. Zulu. Hambelele is far from the power grid reported Fr. Zulu.
Hambelele is a wonderful agriculturally thriving community “farming, gardening and produce is a big part of life” says Fr. Zulu. He added, “putting up a solar kiosk in Hambelele would add to their projects and would have a generational impact.”
If there is a region that is further cut off than Hambelele from other communities, and in need of access to power, it is the Gwembe Valley, were Ntanga is located. “Ntanga is completely cut off,” says Fr. Zulu. “It is so secluded and in such difficult terrain, that adding a solar kiosk to this community would literally be bringing it out of the dark.”
The plans for Hambelele and Ntanga sure are ambitious; “We are going to do the unthinkable. This really is project impossible. But we have a mind-blowing plan. We feel confident of what we can accomplish, and the groundwork has already been laid” says Fr. Zulu.
The impact of implementing solar energy in communities where it wasn’t thought possible cannot be understated or undervalued. Establishing a solar kiosk brings a community the energy to refrigerate food, power a barbershop, or simply power everyday items such as cellphones. “The impact on lives is significant. To see the households we are helping, to see their faces, that is good to me, that is exciting to me,” says Fr. Zulu through a wide smile.
Ambitious plans on the horizon for Caritas Monze and KWH, 2023 is going to be a big year.