Beacons of Solar Light in Haiti Beacons of Solar Light in Haiti
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Beacons of Solar Light in Haiti

by Ben Jervey

January 26, 2010
In the dark, tragic aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, most of the electricity in Port-au-Prince was cut. The lack of power continues to compound the devastation there, shutting down basic communication systems like cell phones and walkie talkies, and leaving lighting and water purification systems dependent on diesel generators. By all accounts, diesel is in very short supply, but, as MSNBCs Alan Boyle has written, some distributed solar devices are providing some much needed salvation. Boyle tells of a solar-powered water purification system that "was pulled from the rubble and put into service at a Red Cross aid station" that is now "turning 30,000 gallons of contaminated city water into drinkable water" every day.Survivors are also turning to solar cookers. Sun Ovens International is working to get solar-powered ovens into the hands of those in need. There's already "one commercial-sized oven, capable of making 1,200 meals during an eight-hour workday." A $40 donation can equip a family with a complete cooking kit.Donations of solar-powered cell phones, radios, and lights are now making their way to the island. U.S.-based Sol Inc. has already sent a donated shipment of lights, and is matching donors contributions to send more. Lights "may sound mundane," as Alex Aylett writes on Worldchanging, "until you imagine trying to perform street-side surgery or find family members in the dark."Photo: SELF.orgThis post originally appeared on, as part of GOOD's collaboration with the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or to submit your own idea today.

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
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Beacons of Solar Light in Haiti