SonLight Power Wins Renewable Energy Development Award from the U.S. Embassy in Honduras
April 26, 2010
SonLight Power, Inc. (SLP), a Cincinnati-based international missionary organization, has been recognized by the United States Embassy in Honduras for outstanding achievements in renewable energy development and promoting greater education and interest in developing clean, alternative energy in that country. At a ceremony on the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day - April 22, 2010 - United States Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens presented SLP volunteer Kevin Sasson with the award, which it shares with the Polytechnic University of Engineering (UPI) in Honduras. The partnership between SLP and UPI kicked off last month when engineering students worked a SLP mission team to successfully install solar energy systems for three elementary schools in Namasigüe, Choluteca.
SLP and UPI were nominated by Ryan Guirlinger, Economic Officer from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa. Both he and Natalie van der Horst, Economic and Commercial Officer, have an important role expanding SLP's relationships in Honduras. Out of a pool of more than a dozen nominees, five finalists were selected in two categories - private sector and civil society. SonLight Power and UPI received one of two civil society awards. U.S. Embassy Ambassador Llorens made the final selection. An audience of about one hundred leaders from government, private and non-profit sectors were in attendance at the ceremony, which coincided with other Earth Day events sponsored by the U.S. government.
Accepting the award for SonLight Power, Sasson thanked Ambassador Llorens and his staff and went on to comment, "Because SonLight Power is a Christian organization, we give all credit to God for what He has achieved through us. He has rewarded us in awesome ways - most significantly by the pure joy, hope and love we share with the children, teachers and community members we serve in Honduras."
Allen Rainey, SonLight Power founder and executive director, was not able to attend the ceremony, but issued this statement, "It is particularly gratifying to be honored by an American entity in Honduras. I also couldn't be more pleased that the hundreds of volunteers and sponsors who have helped to complete installations in seventy schools and a medical clinic over the past eight years are finally being recognized and at this level. It is equally exciting to share this award with the Honduran engineering students as we begin our new partnership with the Polytechnic University. The obvious interest and intelligence of the UPI students bodes well for the future of Honduras."
The partnership between SLP and UPI will provide real-world training venues for college engineers and an enriched curriculum and educational opportunities beyond the classroom. For SLP, training Honduran-based engineers eases the burden of funding trips for U.S-based volunteers. A local talent pool will also alleviate waiting weeks for the next mission team should technical issues arise with a solar energy system.
Three years ago, SLP had already installed solar energy systems in more than twenty Honduran schools when the Office of the First Lady asked for help with the Honduran Healthy Schools Program. There were still an estimated 400 schools without access to grid electricity in remote areas of Honduras. SLP was asked to help. The Honduran leadership has since changed, but in March 2010, Rainey was invited to meet with senior staff in the Office of First Lady Rosa Elena de Lobo to discuss how best to coordinate the completion of this project.
SLP makes a difference by installing solar energy systems that generate sustainable, renewable electrical power for more than thirty years. In most cases, SLP teams, all volunteers, can install a 300-watt solar energy system for a three-classroom school within five hours. The cost of the equipment is approximately $3,500.
Honduran schools benefit in several ways. Students and teachers experience illuminated classes for the first time, as well as lighted kitchens to assist with school lunch preparation. Each project enables the use of multimedia teaching equipment such as TVs, DVD players, and computers. School operational hours can be extended past daylight, broadening educational opportunities and increasing earnings potential for households throughout the surrounding municipality. Beyond enhancing the educational experience, SLP teams engage with students and community members to promote wellness and goodwill during visits.
Since 2002, SLP and SLP-trained teams have installed solar energy systems in schools, orphanages and medical clinics in Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda. In addition, numerous missionaries around the world have purchased equipment from SLP at wholesale prices and/or participated in SLP Training.
For more information about SonLight Power, its current projects, sponsors and how to contribute to its mission, visit their website, www.sonlightpower.org.