So, I decided to send out this newsletter to simply bring you up to speed on everything that is going on. Quite simply, God has opened up so many opportunities, so quickly, that even people I work with often are not aware of all the projects God has brought to me lately.
At this point, I have been to Haiti three times, in March, May, and June. On each of these trips, a system was installed to harness solar power for electrical use.
The March trip was undertaken by Missions International of America (MIA), a Perrysburg, OH based 501(c)3 non-profit with schools in Les Cayes and Ounaminthe, Haiti. The power system was installed at their school in the Savanette desert area just west of Les Cayes. I was placed in charge of the installation process and training two Haitians to maintain the system. This was also the start of a close relationship with MIA, as will be described in detail later.
The May trip was organized and funded by F1 Engineering, my organization. This was my first attempt at running a trip from scratch, and surprisingly, it went pretty good. We took a 8 man team (5 Americans, 3 Haitians) to Grand Goave to work with Mission of Hope Haiti (MOH). This school/church/orphanage compound is a community hub and also a partner with The Hands and Feet Project (H&F), an organization based in Franklin, TN and founded by members of the band Audio Adrenaline. This trip was used to install a solar power system at the MOH facility to provide lighting and power for their property.
The June trip contained two parts. The first week was spent scouting several locations through Haiti for potential solar installations. I traveled with an interpreter and am writing up proposals for installations in Carrefour, St. Etienne, Petit Goave, Mizak, and Leogane. Each of these installations will be lead by F1 Engineering with funding from the missions group receiving the system. The second week was spent working with MIA in the Savanette region again. Several problems were fixed at the school installation, dealing primarily with the electrical system, not the solar installation. Then, solar panels were installed on their water tower to power a well-pump and provide water for this arid region.
At this point, I have somewhat transitioned form a short-term missionary to establishing a long-term presence as an engineer in Haiti. Obviously, that is a loaded sentence, as it is an announcement that a move to Haiti is a very real possibility for my future, and because my placement as an engineer means that I have projects to work on. The projects on the front burner are:
Partnering with MIA:
-MIA is looking to start a factory in Les Cayes. The factory will address the most basic, and, in our opinion, the most pressing need of the region, which is unemployment. Several ideas have been considered for a product, but the best option to date is to manufacture rugged small (200W or less) inverters and trickle chargers. There would be a considerable domestic market, small capital requirements, and relatively simple manufacturer training if a valid prototype can be produced. Our primary goal is to have products that will withstand high-heat, high-humidity, and dirty environments, otherwise known as normal Haitian living.
Partnering with H&F:
-H&F has a facility in Jacmel, where I stayed for 2 days during the June trip. During this time, I helped trace out their electrical distribution and found evidence of 2 fires. As a result, F1 will be taking a trip to Jacmel to completely rewire the facility.
-H&F is also in the process of designing a new orphanage facility in Grand Goave. I am working with them to optimize the design from a power standpoint. This could be a prototype facility for solar power and energy efficiency in Haiti.
-For all of the systems I have installed and am planning to install, there is a dire lack of performance feedback. All the information I have is based on theoretical or claimed performance from data sheets and manufacturers. I would like to test various setups with solar power systems to improve system performance either in the U.S. or in Haiti as my residence allows.
-Additionally, heat is a major problem for all components, including batteries and inverters. I have some ideas for how to improve thermal designs and potentially add water cooling to the systems using well water or collected rain water, but significant testing is required for these ideas.
-For the time being, MIA is supplying solar panels from a donated lot that is already in Haiti. However, this is not an infinite supply. Therefore, I am beginning to research starting a facility to build solar panels from the individual cells in Haiti. This could be another factory facility, launched in direct support of the F1 Engineering Solar Projects.
-I also am writing up proposals for Missions E4 (Leogane), Living Media International (Mizak), Pastor Hakeem (St. Etienne), Pastor Enoch (Petit Goave), and the Degand School Project (Carrefour). These proposals will turn into additional solar power installations as God provides the funding.
These are ambitious projects to say the least. However, I have been granted an amazing position for continued work in the field. MIA has appointed me as their second-in-command and successor to the president of their organization should anything happen to their current president. They will be providing the funding for the factory and are also providing the solar panels for each installation free of charge from their current inventory that is already in Haiti. They have granted me any assistance I need from their organization. Additionally H&F has asked me to assist them in designing their new orphanage facility for best power practices and has pledged continuing partnership on future projects.
While I am alone in a full time role at F1 Engineering, I have also received support and continued interest along the way from Mike Anfang, Dan Kennedy, Silas Gibbs, Kerry Hand and Joe Eisentrager, all fellow Cedarville University Engineering Alumni. Additionally, I have seen great interest in these projects from other engineers and will expand to use them as possible in the future.
Please be in prayer for these ministry opportunities, especially the upcoming trips.
In August, I will be joining Wayne Brown from MIA to troubleshoot a solar power system and solar well in Ounaminthe.
In October, I will be traveling to Jacmel with an electrician to rewire the H&F orphanage.