Birthdays, Presents, and Solar Panels

What’s been happening at Second Mile since we last checked in? Well we’ve been busy! Jenn’s trying to polish off the last of the construction projects at the land while searching for parts and materials for the next step. 

It’s birthday week here in Haiti. I celebrated my 26th on March 21st. And Jenn is about to turn 25 on April 1st. Notice I said week. Yes... Jenn begins celebrating her birthday on March 25th. It’s no secret that she loves parties and birthday presents. More about that at the end of the post.  

aging gracefully, March 21 2013, 26 years!

We also have some big, exciting news to share about a big project.

This time we won’t make Jenn write about it. Right now her head’s spinning with numbers and calculations as it has been this entire month of March. This “big project” involves A LOT of “number crunching,” a serious thing I’ve learned to identify by the concentrated look on Jenn’s face and the way her eyes stare into Number Land (not a place I’m super familiar with...). 

I guess I can spill the beans already. 

The “big project” is power! Solar power! In just a few weeks we have an opportunity to have the Second Mile Haiti campus completely wired! It will happen in two stages. 

Try to stay with me. The technico-logical stuff is almost over I promise!...The first phase is the installations of all the electrical components (lights, outlets, switches and inverters). This phase also includes installation of batteries. These will power the system once they are charged by a diesel generator. Then in Phase 2 the solar panels will be installed on top of the recovery homes and will become our primary source of power. This can happen just as soon as we raise the funds and get the solar panels down to Haiti. 

Phew.. I just exhausted my very limited vocabulary. But that’s the basics. See Jenn for more details. 

If you read the newsletter (a green, gray, and white email that said March Newsletter), you might know that this opportunity is as cool as they come. The story is a longer one so I will try to be concise. To be honest, we hadn’t even been thinking about how to get electricity out at the property. It was one of those “we’ll think about it when we get there” kinds of things. Of course God’s timing is perfect and the opportunity to power-up came just when it was the very next step. We’re “there” at a place where electricity is one of the last big things we need before we open our doors.  

Now here’s what makes this whole thing well, kind of urgent. We have a team of skilled electricians and solar experts headed our way on April 6th! 

How’d we swing that? Well, we didn’t really swing anything. 

I-Tec (Powering Missions Worldwide) is a non-profit organization based out of PA. They travel to dozens of countries each year to help install and  maintain solar and electrical systems for other non-profits. When we contacted I-Tec at the beginning of March, they had been contacted just 10 minutes earlier by another organization in Cap Haitien, that needed help with their hospital’s solar system. 

Their need was an urgent one but our call helped clench the deal. To hear from two organizations in Haiti, located not 10 miles from each other, in the span of 10 minutes was too much of a God thing for the group to ignore. They did what they could to fit us both into their busy schedule. And we feel more than privileged to have their help. 

But April 6th is just around the corner! 13 days from today, I'm told.  The trip's nearness is the reason why Jenn’s head is exploding. Currently, she’s in the next room searching the internet for price comparisons on things like 4" square 1/2" raised cover for duplex receptacle. Yeah... we're just going to let her stay in the zone. And if she asks whether I read through any of the last 3 spreadsheets she sent me I am, most definitely, going to say "yes."  

jenn, checking light-switch prices in the DR

Not only is there a lot to prepare before the team arrives, but there’s a lot of money to raise! 

Despite the challenge, we can’t let this opportunity pass us by. When Bryan Wilson, a missionary pilot from Zambia, was here with my Dad a few weeks ago, he helped us get ready for the "big project." First, by facilitating the connection with I-Tec and then by doing the necessary ground measurements. He also helped us determine the amount of energy we will need when our facility is up and running. He and Jenn have been in communication with I-Tec so that when all is said and done we have an efficient and durable source of power (one where all the parts and pieces work together least we hope!)

Blessed. There I said it. I used the word. We've been blessed by how everything is coming together! 

Our decision to go solar may or may not seem like an obvious one. In Haiti we can count on an average of 7 hours of sunlight per day. Without solar panels we would burn about $17 of diesel fuel per day. With solar panels, we won’t get anywhere close to that, and our savings in fuel cost mean that the panels will pay for themselves in 10 months! Hey maybe I have been listening after all... 

Just a few days ago Jenn received a final summary of the costs involved in this project. Boy am I glad that email finally arrived. Her total time pacing has decreased drastically since she’s got her hands on these numbers. 

If you’re a numbers person, here you have it. 

Electrical supplies (wire, lights, PVC conduit, etc) -------------------- $6,600

Inverters and associated equipment ---------------------------------------$6,600

Batteries and cables (i.e. 24 Trojan T 105)-------------------------------$4,500

Diesel Generator (11 KW)-----------------------------------------------------$9,500

5000 Watts of Solar Panels @$1.10 per watt----------------------------$5,500

Shipping to Haiti and clearing charges -----------------------------------$3,000

                                                                                                  Total $35,700

And then we received a donation of $20,000. $20,000!!! And the big number dropped to $15,700. 

Then I-Tec shared that their California supplier of solar panels was having a sale next week. Instead of paying $1.10 per watt, because of the sale we would pay just $0.35 per watt. 

Instead of spending $5,500 on solar panels we could spend just $1,750.

That drops the big number is down to $11,950!

So here’s the deal. If you are looking for a way to get involved, Jenn has given us specific instructions and numbers. 
Let's make this her best birthday yet. 

For the purpose of birthday presents we'll break this down.

We need 5,000 Watts of Solar Panels. Each watt is only 35 cents! How many can you give Jenn for her birthday? ;)

We also need 24 batteries at $140/battery. 

And if you want to really blow Jenn* away on her birthday we still need electrical stuff, like wire, at a total cost of $6,600.


*your gift would mostly help malnourished babies and their moms and the ministry of Second Mile Haiti, not Jenn specifically, but since Jenn really likes moms and babies... any amount toward the solar power project would make her day! 

Thanks for reading this really long post! We hope you're just as excited as we are about this next step! To God be the glory.