Project Yele’s expedition to Yele is reaching its last week, and so much has already been done.
By popular demand amongst locals, the community bazaar has been baptized eLuma (e = electricity and Luma = market in Krio).
The project was introduced to the Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources, who has visited Yele. He was pleased and supportive of the idea, and agreed that this will be the next energy generation for rural and economic development in Sierra Leone.
Getting to know Sierra Leone
On Sunday Antal, Mauricio and Paul went for a 2.5 hour-long hike into the bush. Tori did not join them, as she was feeling unwell. On their way, they found a village where a wedding was taking place, while a man offered to show the tourists around the farms. Peanut, cassawa, pumpkin, corn, papaya, potato, palm oil, all are grown in the area. And of course, the team’s favorite: a large collection of different kinds of palm wine. The local man also showed off the huge snake he had caught with his trap.
The three team members were impressed with the beauty of the country, its fields and farms. They also saw swamp-like areas that are used for gold and diamond mining.
They have also received visits from many “opotos” (white men) from Magbenteh Hospital – mostly American medical students who are doing internships with the hospital. They spoke about the main incidents they had witnessed during the work in the nearby hospital, such as cases of malaria, typhoid or car accidents.
eLuma taking shape
The team has been getting on with their primary initiative; eLuma (the community bazaar). They have completed a detailed measurement of the land available for the market, and are preparing the final agreement with the community. The Paramount chief visited the team in Yele, to discuss the letter of intent for the land used by eLuma. The meeting concluded, and eventually led to a few beers and a lighthearted conversation on how to improve the Chiefdom. This was followed by one of the first moonless nights in Yele, which was highly anticipated, for its beautiful and extremely starry sky.
Meetings also took place with the Business Administration and Management Professors of UNIMAK (University of Makeni), who are interested in providing the training for business owners in eLuma. They already have experience in community service in the area and “want to make sure that our work is meaningful to the community in which we live.” They were highly positive about the project, and believed that it will truly alleviate the constraints under which businesses currently operate.
Working alongside Lion Heart Foundation, Project Yele has been helping the NGO in their launch of PowerNed, an electricity utility company responsible for providing energy through the hydropower plant in Yele, soon to be completed. They have been working on a brochure to inform people on the company and its role in the community. This experience has helped to get a lot of information on the ins and outs of utility companies and rural electrification. New challenges have risen, which may be of interest to students in Technology and Policy, Engineering & Public Policy or Economics…
Solar lighting business
Having been discouraged to continue with the ice-selling business because of fluctuating fuel prices in Yele (necessary for powering a generator), the team has been working on developing a small business in renting out solar lights. The idea seems to be faring well, and they are waiting to get feedback from two shop owners, Cecilia and Musa Kamara, on their experience with the solar lighting. Although cloudy weather during the rainy season might dissuade some users, we are hoping to get positive feedback and to understand how lighting is used and how much people are willing to pay for it.
SUPPORT PROJECT YELE WITH A LOCAL GIFT!
The team has acquired 50 tradition bottle openers to sell to Project Yele’s friends and supporters. The openers cost 3$, and all the money goes straight to funding for this project. Plus, they are a perfect and original gift! If you are interested, don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also have a look at our Photo Gallery!