Rogers company sends employee volunteers to rural Colombia

Northwest Arkansas News

(Nexstar DC photo)

ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A solar installation and energy services company based in Rogers recently sent a group of 10 employee volunteers to Colombia to help install solar in a struggling rural village called La Sierpe.

Shine Solar is involved in helping those in third-world countries achieve a better standard of living through a non-profit program called Give Power.

“This is the first of several trips we plan to make,” said Shine CEO Nick Gorden. “Obviously, La Sierpe has many needs to address and we can’t tackle them all in one trip.”

Based on Colombia’s Pacific coast, La Sierpe is a small village of approximately 150 people that is completely surrounded by jungle. Families make a living mostly from fishing, which is also their primary food source.

Because it is very remote and surrounded by the jungle, La Sierpe doesn’t have access to the electric grid, and therefore no access to any type of power. Their main source of fresh water is from a nearby creek that villagers have to travel a mile to access.

There are also approximately 80 children in the village who attend a school that can only operate during the day because there is no power. Many of the adults are illiterate and try to attend school to learn, but this is difficult since it only operates when there is sunlight.

The ultimate plan is to help build a pipeline from the nearby creek that can pump water to the solar water purification facility that will be built in the heart of the village. In addition, Shine will also construct a solar panel array with a battery backup system that will provide power to the village and the water pumps.

This will allow refrigeration that will secure the community’s primary food source (fish) into the non-fishing season, increase incomes and reduce stress on the local ecosystem. In addition, power will also allow the school to remain open longer, thereby reducing adult illiteracy. It will also provide access to television, computers, and the Internet among other things.

During this trip, Shine employees helped install a 6-kilowatt ground-mounted solar system to provide power to the school, donated three freezers and a refrigerator to store fish, donated a smart TV to view educational programming, and installed a battery system that will provide power and light to the school during the evening hours.

This was definitely a life-changing experience. It was hard, humbling, and put things in perspective for me. Although these people had nothing, they were the most generous and gracious hosts. They wanted us to be comfortable, so they built us beds before we arrived. They also fed us and were happy to help us with anything we needed. It was a real community environment, something I think we’ve lost in our modern society. I’ll never forget it.

Shine Solar employee Sarah Brase

Future trips will focus on installing more solar systems as well as internet access, a water purification system, a pipeline to the nearby creek, and pumps. Shine donates a portion of the profits from every system sold to the Give Power project.

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