A non-profit organization which promotes, develops, and facilitates solar rural electrification and energy self-sufficiency in developing countries. The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is an international development aid organization working to end global poverty by bringing solar power and Internet access to the world's poorest people in remote rural areas. SELF's installations provide electricity for homes, clinics, schools, village water pumps, vaccine refrigerators, drip irrigation farming and micro-enterprise centers to improve the health, education, food supply and job opportunities for the two billion people living in energy poverty. SELF provides training in the set-up, installation and maintenance of the solar electric and wireless systems to enable communities to remain self-reliant. Since 2003 the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) has taken up the challenge of solar electrifying health care facilities throughout the developing world. SELF has worked with Partners In Health, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, The Ihangane Project, the Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Initiative and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund as well as many other organizations to provide safe, reliable health care to the many underserved communities in the world.
The Ihangane Project
Ihangane,""to be patient"" in Kinyarwanda, Rwanda's native tongue, is a quality that truly is a virtue. In this fast-paced, instant satisfaction world, we forget that the most successful endeavors take time and perseverence. This concept is not lost on Dr. Wendy Leonard, in fact she realized that being patient is exactly how work gets done.
Dr. Leonard began The Ihangane Project (TIP) in Northern Rwanda after volunteering with the Clinton Foundation in 2006. She quickly realized that the people in these communities were struggling to free themselves from poverty's formidable grip. However, due to a lack of resources this was nearly impossible. In response, she founded TIP whose mission is to provide funding and technical support for community-initiated projects that address HIV prevention, education, diagnosis, or treatment. With patience, any dream can come to fruition.
In 2010, SELF was contacted by Dr. Leonard to partner with TIP to solar electrify two clinics and three health posts. Split into two phases, the the solar-electrification of the Nyange Health Center in Norther Rwanda was the first to be completed in July 2010. The1.6 kW installation replaced a 500 Wp decade-old solar powered system that was inoperable during the daytime. This new installation provides reliable power so patients can recieve vital healthcare 24/7.
The second phase of the project was completed in April of 2011. SELF installed a 1.6 kW system at the Rukura Health center in the same region as Nyange, and 270 Wp systems at three health posts. All of these facilities will serve the thousands of people in the community and surrounding areas. People will no longer have to walk an hour and a half to recieve the healthcare they need and deserve.
Partners In Health
A reliable energy source is essential for the operation of hospitals and clinics, but, that's a major challenge in Rwanda and elsewhere in Africa. With the exception of Egypt and South Africa, 85 percent of Africa's 680 million people live in rural areas without electricity.
Diesel generators are one answer — but hardly the best. Diesel is expensive and polluting, and generator breakdowns are common, with replacement parts typically miles and days away.
Faced with a choice between solar and diesel at five rural health clinics in eastern Rwanda, Partners In Health took the solar path, collaborating with SELF on systems for the communities of Mulindi, Rusumo, Rukira, Nyarabuye, and Kirehe. The systems are solardiesel hybrid systems that generate 90 percent or more of their power from the sun, with diesel generators for back-up during prolonged heavy usage, or in periods of rain.
At the clinics, solar power now supplies electricity for vaccine refrigeration and for computer recordkeeping and communication via satellite.
Labs have also gained solar powered microscopes, blood analysis machines, centrifuges, portable X-ray machines, and sterilization devices. There is, as well, new LED lighting in patient wards.
Soon after our successful collaboration with Partners In Health, SELF was approached by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, asking our help in the solar electrification of clinics run by the School's International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs.
Through this collaboration, there are now 15 additional health centers enjoying the benefits of solar power in the country's north and west. Thanks to the efforts of SELF, Rwanda is facing a brighter future.