A crew of volunteer solar installers that met for the first time, an unforgettable boat trip, living with the locals and the completion of 3 solar system installations in 3 days were the highlights of the first part of SEIA’s Vanuatu Aid Project.
Meet the volunteers, Michael Reiken-Exel Solar, Brian England-Self Sufficiency Supplies, Esmail Attila-Solar Hybrid Solutions, Brett Hyde-Wondai Electrical, Maurie Morrisson-Maurie Morrisson Electrical, Rob Taber-New England Solar Power, Patrick Trinder-Cut Wind Solar and Owen Blamires-Wondai Electrical.
The boards were prepared in the shed of local business Renereltech Ltd with the proprietor Rod Newell on hand to assist with transport, storage, tools and the provision of his staff, invaluable support and assistance
Land and sea transport were another experience all together. From the local taxi to the boat trip to the island transport nothing was impossible to organise and all done with big smiles and the wish to assist. Seaside services rescheduled their complete service in order to drop off and pick-up the volunteers from Tongoa and the schools provided the ‘taxi’ to get everyone around on the island. The local taxi in Port Vila fits 9 people, the island transport managed 11 people and unloading the boat was done the “island way”, from the boat into a dingy, then carried from the dingy through the water onto the island. No solar panel broken, suitecases wet or batteries sunk thanks to the skilled crew from Seaside Services and the assistance from our volunteers and the locals of Tongoa.
Despite no sleep on the boat (9 hours at sea during the night) everyone was keen getting the job started. Luggage dropped off and equipment distributed to each site volunteers prepared the first site, Lekanon School. By the end of the day hardware was sorted, panels mounted, switchboard prepared and ready for a warm beer.
Caught up on missed sleep they were off to an early start, so they thought. Arriving at Lekanon school at 7am they were greeted by locals on their way home, carrying spades and shovels with which they had just dug 3 massive trenches. That’s the island way, everyone helps and boy, did they work.