Category Archives: solarpower

Official handover of Malimba School

Category : News , solarpower , zambia

On Friday 7th June we joined trustees of Friends of Monze and their local partners Zambian Women and Girls at the official handover of Malimba School.

Howard went early to check that the solar panels had been mounted on the roof correctly. He was pleased to see that all was well and the batteries were fully charged.

battery gauge shoing 100% chargedpupils at Malimba Schoolladies on catering dutybeer

A group of local ladies produced some amazing food after many hours toiling over hot fires. We had goat, chicken, beef, rape leaves, nshima and a delicious gravy. There were huge drums of sweet beer but we settled for soft drinks!

We looked at the new borehole provided by Friends of Monze and then enjoyed entertainment including singing and dancing.

entertainment


Malimba School, Monze District

Category : News , solarpower , zambia

We’re here in Monze District to deliver some teacher training and to install solar panels at Malimba School. This school has been newly built by Friends of Monze who asked us to install the panels on their behalf.

lorry of equipment all set for Malimbaschool children greeting us

 

We set off early with the solar panels lying on a mattress on the back of a lorry. Our route took us through a large farm. We had to stop and have the tyres sprayed as there is Foot and Mouth around.
We were greeted by excited school children on our arrival.

unloading lorryHoward explaining about solarsetting up panels at Malimbosetting up a battery

The equipment was unloaded and Howard ran through the principles of the installation with a group of teachers and members of the local community. Several of them had installed small panels before so understood the process.

We brought a projector, laptops and RACHEL learning resources on a Raspberry Pi server. Teachers and members of the local community were very interested in the various modules. A mother brought her toddler to hear the African story Books and some of the ladies even read stories to Howard in the local language Chitonga.

Ladies looking at RACHEL using laptopschild looking at storyladies reading in Chitonga

A local smith is making a frame for the panels and this should be all done and up on the roof by the time we return to Malimba on Friday for the official opening.

 


Solar Installation Training at Siavonga High School

Category : News , solarpower , sponsors , zambia

 

This training was designed to introduce the principles of solar installation to teachers from three remote rural schools where we will be installing solar panels next week. Teachers came from Dibbwi, Manchamvwa Inland and Nashongo primary schools.

 solar system
crimping connectors for solar panels

After some explanation of how solar power works, and how to care for a solar system, it was hands-on to connect the panels in pairs. The teachers will transport the equipment to their schools and Giakonda Solar Schools will oversee installation next week.

We are very grateful to have received funding for these solar installations under the Welsh Government Wales for Africa Grant Scheme  

WElsh Government Wales for Africa Scheme logo


Grant funding for 2019

Category : News , solarpower , sponsors , zambia

We are very pleased to announce that we have received the following grant funding for 2019.

Wales for Africa Grants

Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa Grants Scheme has awarded Giakonda Solar Schools £10,000 to supply solar power to three more schools in the Siavonga District of Zambia. We’ve identified these with the help of the local District Education Board Secretary. We hope to visit in the spring to carry out the project, which also includes the installation of laptops, projectors, and LED lights. At the centre of our solution lies the offline learning resource of RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). This is delivered to all wireless enabled devices via a Raspberry Pi computer used as a wireless hotspot.

The Waterloo Foundation

We must also thank The Waterloo Foundation who have awarded us £3200 to carry out research in Siavonga District. We want to find out the impact our project is having on pupils, teachers and the wider community served by the schools. We have supplied solar power as the infrastructure for learning resources. Now we need to prove the impact that has had. We’ll publish our findings on our return from Zambia.


Kampuna

Category : News , solarpower

We planned to visit Kampuna, a rural school built by Friends of Monze. It is a standard design school consisting of 3 classrooms and a head teacher office. It has no mains power.
Our purpose was to install two 320W solar Panels and two 220Amh Batteries to provide power.
We expected to be using the vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Education – a Land Cruiser that can cope well off-road. Due to a mix-up we had no land cruiser. A local boarding school stepped in to provide a lorry!
panels on lorryKampuna community members

Members of the local community helped get the panels on the roof and connected to the batteries. They mounted the solar controller, fuse box and battery gauge neatly on a piece of wood. The solar set up was complete.

up on to the roofsetting up battery and controllers
The school can use solar power to charge laptops, run a projector and have LED lighting. We also installed a Raspberry Pi computer which acts as a wireless hotspot and delivers an off-line learning resource called RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). This resource contains a vast amount of learning materials to help teachers research unfamiliar subjects, prepare lessons and present them via the projector. It can be accessed via any wireless enabled device.
Some women from the PTA spent a lot of time looking at health guides and at African storybooks.
An enterprising local barber turned up with his clippers and gave Howard a haircut! He had immediately seen the potential of solar power.

gauges for solar set up


Mwiinga Malimvwa

Category : News , solarpower

Solar Panels for Mwiinga Malimvwa School

Friends of Monze have just completed the building of a 3 classroom school and teacher’s house in the very remote village of Mwiinga Malimvwa.

Villagers made the bricks and provided the labour. Nine young people were trained as apprentice bricklayers on the project. All completed the qualification including three young women.

Giakonda Solar Schools installed two solar panels to provide power for LED lighting, laptops and a projector. We also set up RACHEL on a Raspberry Pi so that the school has a large learning resource.

Mwiinga Malimvwa viewExplaining parts of solar set upsolar set upsolar panelsattaching to batterysetting up panelsUp on to the roofpanels in place

Today was the official handover to the District Education Board Secretary. About 400 people turned up to join the celebration, and partake of the feast.. There was singing and dancing, but also a lot of long speeches!

dancingpupils waiting to danceYoung female bricklayer


Lakeshore schools

Category : News , solarpower , zambia

Lakeshore Schools

Early start as we had to go to the harbour for 6.30am start for visit to lakeside schools. In the event we actually left just before 8am despite an assurance that we would not be working on Zambian time!

A trip by boat to Lakeshore schoolsLake Kariba

We were joined by the educational standards officer (representing DEBS), water engineers bringing a refurbished pump, and environmental health officers who wanted to talk to the village communities about cholera and the importance of good sanitation.

We used a small speed boat which managed to hold four 60KG batteries, four solar panels, assorted solar equipment and tools and 8 people. Due to our late departure, we bounced over waves as the wind rises between 8.30 and 11am each day.

Manchamvwa Lakeshore Primary School

After a couple of hours (and rather splashed!) we neared Manchamvwa Lakeshore village. Our captain had to negotiate his way carefully past a sunken forest whose bare branches showed above the water. A large amount of the area we were sailing over becomes fertile fields in the dry season. Many people had taken a chance on planting maize, but the abundant rains this year had left it brown and under a few feet of water.

A group of older pupils helped us carry the equipment a kilometre to the school. Howard revised the process of solar installation with school staff and PTA members, then started connecting things up.

Solar panels for Lakeshore schoolsolar panels for Lakeshore school

looking at RACHEL elearning resourceLED lights working at Lakeshore school

I showed members of staff the laptops we had brought and demonstrated how to use them to access Raspberry Pi with its off-line digital resources (RACHEL). This school has 415 pupils who come in a morning or afternoon session to be taught by the five teachers.

We met the local headmen, PTA and a large group of parents who had assembled to receive advice on keeping cholera away by good sanitation practices. We told them about our project and received a very warm welcome. They expressed thanks for the fact that we had promised to bring solar power to them and had actually done so, unlike other organisations in the past.

village meeting at Lakeshore schoolsolar panels for Lakeshore schhol

Munyama Primary School

Next we took to the boat to return along Lake Kariba to Munyama School. Again pupils carried the equipment and we walked behind through long grass. The vegetation in both these villages is lush and green with bright red birds and dragonflies flying around.

lakeshore

Howard re-capped the process of solar installation and then we stopped for a much-needed lunch of nshima, goat meat and rape leaves. Suitably refreshed, we carried on with the task in hand.

Pupils wanted to sing for us – lovely melodic singing- and say some poetry. One little girl in particular moved me when she said, “We children are all the same. Why should not the rural child have the same opportunities as the urban child?”

This is an inequality we are working to redress to the best of our ability.

The school had been obliged to close because there was no water for handwashing and flushing toilets. The water engineers had brought a pump with them to get things working again. We watched with bated breath as they tested it – thankfully all was well. It is a large pump which needs a generator to power it. We had hoped to provide a solar solution but the number of panels required to power it would be too expensive. We are researching how we might assist either by a smaller solar pump, or possibly by providing a clean storage tank.

Back along the Lake to Siavonga after a busy but rewarding day. Not only had we brought solar power to two remote schools, but our visit had also facilitated the delivery of the pump, and the inspection and training of communities in good sanitation.


Solar Panels for Syakalinda

Category : News , solarpower , zambia

Today was the day to install solar panels for Syakalinda Primary School. This school is 4.5km off the tarmac road but we managed to cope with the ruts and bumps and get there in a couple of hours. We were welcomed eagerly (in fact they phoned several times to check our progress!)

The school is in a beautiful setting with lush vegetation around – at least at this time of year.  A public holiday has been announced at the last minute by President Lungo. This was probably sensible in view of the fact that we’ve got Women’s Day-today-Sat-Sun-Youth’s Day(Mon). Everyone was going to be in holiday mood today anyway.

Solar panels for Syakalinda view from school

As we arrived the children were all lining up to receive nshima as part of a government feeding program. Nshima is made of corn and is starchy and filling with little nutritional value.

Solar panels for Syakalinda childrens feeding programSolar panels for Syakalinda Kitchen for childrens feeding program

Members of staff and PTA were on hand to carry out the installation of the panels under Howard’s watchful eye. As always, climbing on the roof looked scary!

Solar panels for SyakalindaSolar panels for Syakalinda

Celebrations and thanks followed!


Hub Cymru Africa Innovation Award

Category : News , solarpower , zambia

Hub Cymru Africa Awards 2018

We’re delighted to announce that we received the Hub Cymru Africa Innovation Award last night from the First Minister at the Hub Cymru Africa Awards 2018.

Hub Cymru Africa innovation Award 2018award trophy made of Welsh Oak and slate

The award  recognised innovation in project design or implementation. We have developed a simple but effective solution to providing solar power and computer resources to schools in rural Zambia. During a number of visits over three years, we have continually refined the system.

Our Project

To date we have installed solar panels in 8 schools, with 3 more to be equipped this February. First we demonstrate the set up to teachers and local community members. Then, under supervision, they themselves undertake the installation. We make sure that they understand  the basics of maintenance and have the necessary tools to do this. This approach has resulted in one headteacher being able to instal solar panels we donated, without us even being in Zambia at the time!

We use the Raspberry Pi computer to deliver a vast range of offline learning resources, as this is low powered and inexpensive. The resource is called RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). Laptops are able to access the information wirelessly in a safe environment without the dangers and distractions of the internet. Schools are not dependent on being able to access or indeed afford the internet. At present we are developing a means of accessing log files on the Raspberry Pi to enable monitoring and reporting on content accessed.

The solar set up also provides enough power for LED lights, a projector and phone charging. The use of a projector has great impact in making learning more interesting for classes (often in excess of 50 pupils). LED lights mean that schools can continue to function long after dark, making it easier for teachers to do marking and lesson preparation.

For schools that have mains power we network their computer systems to a server enabling safe sharing of files and access to the RACHEL learning resources. We place great emphasis on training of teachers so that they can use the technology with confidence.

We also encourage the wider community to use the resources as they contain a wealth of articles and videos on subjects relevant to life in a remote area.

Our solution is easily rolled out in any remote community and the benefits are considerable for a modest outlay.

Our Sponsors

We could not have done this without the help of grants and donations from our sponsors:
Hub Cymru Africa
The Waterloo Foundation
University of Wales Trinity St Davids
Swansea University
S & C Electric Europe
SolarPlants
DVLA
Coleg SirGar
Pentrehafod School
Synology UK


Zambia visit

Category : News , solarpower , zambia

We’re busy planning our next visit to Zambia in February when we will be installing SolarPanels in 3 rural schools and carrying out a lot of teacher training.

panels are upnetworking course

Can anyone support us by donating routers and / or access points? We use these to extend access to the vast offline resources of RACHEL on a RaspberryPi server. They do not have to be superfast 10/100 is alright.

Raspberry Pi with RACHELPupils using RACHEL

We’re also still looking for unwanted hard drives (laptop or PC) for refurbishing equipment to take out to schools with power.