Honore Guerrier has run an orphanage in the isolated city of Jérémie, on the western coast of Haiti, since 1982. For most of that time, he depended on donations from locals to sustain the 50 children in his care, but locals are also very poor, and feeding the children was traditionally very difficult. In 2012, he received a Ti Soley solar charging station. This gave him a valuable service to offer to his neighbors, and a sustainable way to bring money into the orphanage. With the revenue, he can not only feed the children at the orphanage, he can also offer them light and power, something many of the children had never seen before. And because neighbors now come to the orphanage on a regular basis to recharge their batteries, it has become a gathering place for the community. Locals know the children by name and they have become part of the fabric of everyone’s daily lives. Thanks to Ti Soley, the orphanage is no longer a burden on the community. Now it’s a pillar of it.
Marmalade is a small rural town in the mountains north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Sostene Pierre is a shop owner and community leader in the town, as well as a judge of sorts consulted by the villagers to resolve community disputes. After he was chosen to be the host for the town’s Ti Soley charging station, he was able to provide electricity for 100 neighbors. When the state utility reached Marmalade with energy infrastructure, the transition was seamless. Locals were already accustomed to paying for their power regularly, and with state provided power, they were able to get more for their money. Sostene worked with us to move the solar charging station several miles out to a community that was still off the grid. It was a win all around – the local utility is happy to get paying customers, Marmalade residents have inexpensive power, and residents of the more isolated town are happy to get the power that the Ti Soley station provides.
Not long before Sirona established a Ti Soley charging station at the school run by Mr. Mark in St. Helene, tragedy struck the town. A local mother left her two small children at home while she hurried to market. The children accidentally started a fire with the kerosene heater and were killed. The entire community was in mourning. With the charging station in place, locals no longer rely on kerosene for light. There are fewer burns and fewer respiratory ailments, getting light to read by is as easy, and women can spend less time washing clothes since they get less kerosene soot on them. Plus, Mr. Marks’ school now has electricity for students to study by, something it lacked before Sirona got involved.
Farming is carried out by local farmer co-ops. Every year Sirona provides funds to participating co-ops to loan to their farmers who want to extend the amount of land they have under cultivation. Rather than repay Sirona for these loans the farmers repay their loans with food that they grow. In essence, Sirona has pre-purchased food for local schools. Over time farmers deliver the food to their local committee. The food is used to provide school lunches for the children of the community. This is one of the ways that Sirona multiplies its impact in communities where it works.
St. Etienne is a small community perched on a steep mountainside in southern Haiti. Local farmers load Jatropha seedlings into baskets that they carry on their heads down the narrow terraces where they grow their food crops. Beans are a very common crop for the hillside farmers. Sirona’s Jatropha program was eagerly adopted in this area because by incorporating Jatropha the hillsides are bolstered and protected from erosion during the rainy season. Jatropha also gives the farmers an additional cash crop. Often farmers find it difficult to sell their food crops in the market and a lot of food is lost in the process. Because Sirona guarantees to purchase all Jatropha seed that farmers produce, farmers enjoy not only improved farm land but also increased revenue.