December 1, 2020 / Equipping Haiti / Source: Amber Grim
Equipping a Haiti Medical Mission with Life-Saving Power
Solar power from SonLight Power is making patient care possible at Haiti Health Ministries amid extreme poverty and a global pandemic.
By Amber Grim
“In 2010 when the earthquake hit, everyone was without electricity. Using a small, borrowed generator, all we could power was a single fluorescent lightbox we hung in a tree over a dining table so at night we could suture lacerations — and deliver 3 babies.”
Sandra Wilkins, Co-Founder of Haiti Health Ministries, on the real-life struggles Haitian missions have faced while working with limited or no access to electricity.
Statistically regarded as the most impoverished country in the western hemisphere, Haiti relies on heavily on Christian missions for relief, healing, and the hope of Jesus in dire circumstances.
One of those missions making a difference is Haiti Health Ministries (HHM), founded and operated by the husband and wife team of Dr. Jim and Sandra Wilkins. In 2018, SonLight Power came alongside HHM to equip the medical mission toward its goal of meeting the healthcare needs of the Haitian community they’ve served for over 20 years.
Located in Gressier, a coastal town an hour west of Port-au-Prince, HHM provides medical care for up to 200 patients a day and over 50,000 visits a year. HHM’s full-service clinic administers everything from routine care to emergencies, minor surgeries, birthing, ultrasound, X-ray, and patient education.
And while patient care is how the clinic serves the community’s healthcare needs, HHM’s ultimate goal is to spread the Good News of Jesus with every patient through daily devotionals, worship, and Biblical teaching.
Before solar power, HHM struggled to operate safely and efficiently. Electricity in Haiti is inconsistent at best, and while unreliable power is inconvenient for many missions, power outages can pose life threatening emergencies for patients at a clinic such as HHM – just imagine the power going out during a surgical procedure.
Like many Haitian ministries, HHM relied heavily on generators. But fuel for the generators was expensive and the equipment broke down frequently. What’s more, fuel shortages and social unrest in 2019 made getting gas even more dangerous and pricey.
“In 2010 when the earthquake hit,” explains Sandra, “everyone was without electricity. Using a small, borrowed generator, all we could power was a single fluorescent lightbox we hung in a tree over a dining table so at night we could suture lacerations — and deliver 3 babies.”
Several years ago, HHM received a modest solar power system that met critical needs thanks to a generous donor with SonLight Power. But by 2018, HHM’s campus had grown to include the clinic, operating rooms, homes for staff, a kitchen, guesthouse, and more. And after living through the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, Dr. Jim and Sandra knew the importance of reliable power for the sustainability of their mission.
With that in mind, SonLight Power designed and installed a new solar power system that tripled the output of HHM’s first system. Because of the new construction on campus, HHM now had a south-facing roof perfect for harnessing the sun’s rays and energy – an ideal location for the new solar array to complement the first system and more efficiently charge the system’s batteries.
“The new system is able to power all the electrical loads on the HHM compound every day, even under inclement weather,” says Clay Luna, SonLight Power Director of Programs.
Anyone who has received treatment in a hospital setting knows how vital basic electricity is to running a clinic and providing quality patient care. X-ray and laboratory equipment require clean, consistent electricity to work properly. With their new solar power system, HHM physicians can confidently operate equipment to diagnose and treat patients.
“While others have struggled in the last year to have electricity due to public unrest and fuel shortages,” says Sandra, “we’ve had sufficient power thanks to our solar power system designed and installed by SonLight Power.”
With the pandemic, HHM has faced new challenges, but solar power is proving to be a precious resource when adjusting to the new environment. The ability to communicate with partners and suppliers outside the walls of the HHM campus is key.
“Power for the internet has been unbelievably valuable,” explains Sandra. “Because of solar power, I can go online and do the necessary purchasing, shipping, and receiving for the clinic.”
Reliable electricity not only provides internet for the procurement of supplies to protect against COVID-19 – masks, rubbing alcohol, soap, hand sanitizer, equipment to make handwashing stations – internet access also allows HHM to set-up transport for important pathological tests for patients that can only be completed in the U.S. HHM clinicians can also go online to keep up on the latest coronavirus treatments and learn where to send COVID-19 patients, how to get them tested in Haiti, and which ambulances will transport infected patients.
And while patient care is a top priority for Dr. Jim and Sandra, maintaining an active church life is equally important. Although Haiti churches closed due to the pandemic, HHM staff can still attend church online to receive God’s Word, teaching, prayer, and keep in contact with HHM donors and families in the U.S.
“Most Haitian ministries understand the importance of solar power,” Sandra says. “We’ve told other ministries here in Haiti about our experience with SonLight Power, and now they’re also benefiting from their solar systems and expertise, too.”
“We absolutely love working with HHM,” says Clay. “They represent what we love seeing in mission partners around the world — a love for Jesus, the desire to spread His Word, and a love for the people they serve.”
Consistent, reliable electricity with solar power is essential to HHM’s ability to meet the growing needs of the surrounding community. Moving forward, HHM is focused on sharing the gospel with the Haitian community, providing quality patient care, expanding safe delivery services for pregnant women, and offering community immunizations.
SonLight Power is proud to partner with HHM to equip the medical ministry with solar-powered resiliency so HHM can impact more lives in the name of Jesus.
How can our mission help yours? Visit the Equip Your Mission page on the SonLight Power website to learn more.
For more information: Special Update from the SonLight Power [Home] Office