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For two orphanages in Mexico, solar panels mean more than affordable, clean energy production. It also means much-needed savings on their monthly electric bill–money which can instead be used to provide the children with healthy food and school supplies, maintain a comfortable living environment, and unlock new possibilities.
“The amount of money we expect to save can fully support four kids. It can keep four human beings off the streets in Tijuana,” director of Door of Faith Orphanage DJ Schuetze said. The solar panels were installed at the facility in early September. “These solar panels going in have a direct impact on our ability to care for and give kids a future.”
Door of Faith Orphanage, which houses more than 100 displaced children in La Misión, Baja California, Mexico, is the latest GRID Alternatives, a project that received both financial and hands-on support from IGS Energy.
The Door of Faith installation came just two weeks after GRID and IGS installed solar panels at Casa de la Esperanza, a Tijuana orphanage that is home to nearly 60 children at a time. Both orphanages received solar panels as a part of GRID’s International Program, which began installing solar systems in Nicaragua in 2008 before expanding to Nepal and Mexico.
Depending on the region, the solar panel installation might provide the only form of power to schools, farms, homes, and clinics that are not connected to the electric grid. In the case of these two orphanages, it means lowering electricity costs by 40-50 percent.
“[The savings] will go toward education for the children, better meals, and also bettering our personnel and supporting them a little more, as they are all volunteers and do hard work,” Director of Casa de la Esperanza Martin Hernandez said.
According to GRID, electricity can cost between $400 and $1,200 per month for these orphanages. For Door of Faith, those savings from the solar installation will be enough to send two children to university, Schuetze said.
GRID has installed solar panels at three orphanages in Mexico in partnership with Corazón de Vida, an organization whose mission is to end child abandonment and poverty in the area. As part of a three-year philanthropic and volunteer partnership with GRID, IGS assisted on the two most recent installations, along with students studying Renewable Energy and Engineering from Universidad Tecológica.
“It was a dream for many years and to see it come true and in such a short time at such an unexpected moment. When seeing the first few solar panels go up, I felt a sigh of relief because this will generate other means for Casa de Esperanza,” Hernandez said.
GRID’s trained staff started each morning of the installation process with safety instructions and the process was outlined step-by-step for volunteers.
“This has been a really rewarding experience,” Austin Mitchell, Manager, Forecasting & Supply Analytics at IGS said. “We’ve been able to interact with folks at the orphanage and understand the impact that we are going to have, and we’ve been able to grow together as a team.”
During the nine-day trip, the installation crew immersed themselves in the local culture. They slept in close quarters with blankets that the children at the orphanage made (purchasing the blankets at the end of the trip), explored the surrounding area, and made dinner with the children on the final night of their stay.
For the IGS volunteers, the short and productive trips were the ultimate team-building and world-expanding experience. For the orphanages, it was so much more.
If you are interested in supporting Door of Faith or Casa de la Esperanza please consider making a contribution: