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July 10th, 2013 by Aaron Segura

Shipping solar panels to Ethiopia

Regardless of the holiday fun, this past weekend was a fantastic one. I took a long awaited trip to Hanover, New Hampshire to speak with Carol Foster, the founder and executive director of the Selamta Family Project. This was the first chance since the initiation of the project that Carol and I have been able to talk about our vision and the possibilities for this project in person – so needless to say, it was quite a fantastic conversation. Unfortunately, my partner in crime was away visiting family and was not able to join. Our conversation mostly revolved around addressing some of the more difficult issues facing this project: shipping solar panels to Ethiopia; finding solar technicians willing to volunteer their time; and creating some type of education curriculum to present the benchmarks of sustainability to the Selamta children. Shipping (and acquiring) solar panels will likely be our largest obstacle but we are hoping that the shipping costs can be written off as a tax deduction for contributing to renewable energy use and the well being of a 501(c)3. Carol mentioned a very interesting idea about linking up with Ethiopia Airlines and a number of other organizations in and around the capital of Addis Ababa who might have a direct interest in what we are trying to do hence, an incentive to help us financially. The Solar Energy Foundation, a German non-profit that provides solar panels for rural villages in Ethiopia, is one of the major organizations we want to link up with. Although we have not yet contacted them, SEF trains Ethiopians as solar technicians allowing the students to then return to their homes and use their training to directly benefit their communities. This is exactly the type of model and opportunity we want to provide the Selamta children with.

Collaborating with various minds is ultimately how I wanted to run this project and will definitely make the end product more impactful so it was very encouraging that Carol was on the same page and make for an altogether inspiring discussion. After all, the more organizations and individuals we can involve with this project, the better the overall outcome will be. Advice and help is something that will be crucial in making sure our deliverable is implemented and long lasting. Considering we have complied much of the research and knowledge that we need to promote our ideas, our next step is simply to create connections and garner support for our project. Before I left for New Hampshire I sat down with Professor Stephen McCauley , who specializes in environmental planning and policy-making, for a discussion about the best way to go about making these connections and promoting our project. With a project that requires the participation and help of a large assortment of individuals, like this one does, making yourself present and know is integral – something that we will be doing in the upcoming weeks. I will most definitely post on the process of contacting organizations and keep you all better updated and informed our progress.


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