|Solar Families Provided the
Gift of Light to 2 Domestic Violence Shelters
Since 2016, SolarFamilies.org has provided 23 Belizean families with solar energy, many living in remote areas where there was no access to electricity.
Last October, while both waiting for a flight to Belize at the Houston Airport, Pastor Elizabeth Salazar of Omega Ministries in Cayo chatted with Karin Westdyk, Belize project director of Solar Families. Pastor Salazar expressed interest in acquiring solar energy for 2 Omega houses providing safe shelter and supportive services for victims of domestic violence and their children. Karin put out an alert and found a sponsor for the project. Norma and Karl Stehle of New Jersey and longtime friends of Karin generously volunteered to pay for two Watchmen Systems provided by Pro-Solar of Belmopan. And Pro-Solar generously volunteered their technicians to do the installations on May 2nd. The technicians reported that everyone was quite happy to have lights and fans.
Pastor Salazar explained how the solar power systems have provided an incredible opportunity, not only for the needy families served by Omega, but for the children to learn the responsibility of caring for the environment by using this new way to generate electricity. She added that this incredible technology could give a better life to the most vulnerable groups of people in this country.
And that is what Solar Families is all about. Funded by anonymous donors from Canada, the watchman systems are purchased at a discount, thanks to the generosity of Pro-Solar. Since 2016 when the first system was installed, recipients learn the process of installing and caring for the systems and then help neighbors with new installations and maintenance training.
Melisa De Leon, manager of Pro Solar Engineering Ltd. said that she is most gratified to have assisted Solar Families in the contribution of “Watchman Packages” with installation for the two battered women shelters in San Ignacio. “Through the past years, we have seen tremendous work being done via this organization, and are very proud that they have decided to use Solar Energy as a form of aid to underprivileged families, homes and shelters. She added, “Our ‘Watchman Package’, a DIY solution, has been specifically designed to meet the needs of basic electricity through cost effectiveness and is tailored specifically for low-income families who live in rural or un- electrified communities”. She added, “We hope to be of continuous assistance to the great cause Mrs. Karin and Mrs. Helen are serving within Belize, and hope that through our collaborative advocacy, we can make a positive change in today’s renewable energy outlook by creating a positive movement for the future”.
Karin Westdyk (former teacher, environmental journalist, renewable energy advocate) and Helen Smith (former school principal, respected teacher, educational volunteer), are the Belize facilitators of Solar Families and they agree that this project is especially significant for the children who no longer have to do homework by candlelight, flashlight, or kerosene lanterns. Anyone wishing to learn more or wanting to help can visit www.solarfamilies.org.