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A Miracle Has Happened!

I am thrilled to report that for the first time in its seven years of existence, Centre de Sante de Gatineau now has electricity and pure, drinkable, running water! We praise the Lord for His blessing and provision for us in this huge accomplishment. And, we thank the many people who made this possible:

  • Chuck Smith in Milwaukee who helped order all the electrical equipment and supplies.

  • Karl Ralian in Waukesha, WI and Food For The Poor who shipped the equipment down to Haiti in a shipping container.

  • David Farquharson, from Port-au-Prince, who is a missionary with an incredible amount of knowledge and practical experience in setting up systems like ours. He came out from PAP two consecutive weekends to conduct the actual installation of the entire system. Without his practical knowledge of the constraints and issues unique to Haiti (e.g., the huge problem of solar panel theft), this installation would not have been possible.

  • Junior Telisma, our Haitian electrical foreman who came up with his entire crew to do all the wiring and help with the installation.

  • Gardy Pamphile, our Haitian plumber who put in the water system and installed the UV filters that filter our water.

  • Jacob Pierre and his crew of iron workers from Jérémie who built the iron racks that secure the panels to the roof so they don’t “walk off”.

  • Our own staff members including Gemi Baptiste, Guy-Johns Chevalier and Adrien Jean Jacques.

  • And, of course, Cherlie who provided supervision and QA on the roof as the process unfolded.

Below are some photos from this past weekend’s events.

In our previous blog, I described the electrical system that we set up, with solar panels connected to an inverter and a battery system. This is necessary because there is no source of electrical power up in the mountains where the clinic is located. So, we need to create all of our electricity. On sunny days, the solar panels gather the solar energy and the electricity they generate is passed through wires to a control box and supplies electricity to the buildings. Excess electricity is passed into the batteries (we installed 32 12Volt batteries) that store the energy. Then, in the evening or during cloudy periods, the electrical energy is taken from the batteries, goes through the inverter that changes it from DC (direct current) to common household AC (alternating current) power that goes into the buildings. It’s not a complicated system, but it requires a lot of wiring and understanding of where the current needs to go. The solar panels generate a lot of electrical energy, so things need to be handled and connected correctly. This is where David was such a huge help to us, in order to get everything connected in a way that will avoid problems in the future.

Last weekend, the iron workers made heavy iron racks on which to place the solar panels. This was necessary to secure the panels from theft up on the roof. The racks were bolted into the concrete roof. Then, the 24 solar panels (each of them was 300 watts) were taken up to the roof. As is typical in Haiti, the workers chose the shortest route (i.e. ladders) and established a “brigade” to get them quickly and safely up to the roof (similar to the bucket brigade they use when concrete roofs are being poured). Here are photos of the process:

Iron racks bolted to the roof, on which the solar panels will be placed.

Workers welding the security bar at the bottom of the iron rack on the roof prior to installing the panels. The iron bar covers the edge of the panel, preventing it from being lifted out of the iron rack.

Solar panel being brought from the clinic to the ladders and waiting “brigade.”

Panel going up the first ladder.

Panel at base of the second ladder.

Panel going up second ladder.

As each panel was put into place on the iron rack, David and the electricians connected wires underneath the panel. These wires connected all the panels together on each side (12 panels on the bottom and 12 on the top). Each set of 12 panels feeds into the control boxes and inverters in the main electrical room. This wiring system was a critical step in the process, since, once the panels were in place, they were welded across the top and there is no way to get under the panels to access the wires without cutting apart the entire rack system (obviously a deterrent to thieves, which is why the panels are secured so well).

Sliding the panels into place on the iron rack.

After the panel is in place, wires are connected underneath it as David looks on.

The crew get the next panel ready to place on the rack.

David created a plywood support to go on top of the panels, on which Jacob could sit to weld iron across the bottom edge of the rack.

Jacob sitting on the plywood support that protected the panels from damage and kept him from sliding off the roof!

Of course, no job is done at the site without the supervision of Cherlie.

Solar panels installed on the roof of the residence. They were placed at an angle and in a direction to capture the most sunlight during the day.

Electrical room with inverters, charge controller, control panels and wiring that runs the entire electrical system.

The batteries were set up on an iron rack along the wall in the storage depot that is directly behind the electrical equipment. The batteries were connected to each other with heavy cables and cables were put through the wall to connect to the electrical equipment.

Electricians hooking up the batteries with cables.

While the electricians were hard at work, the plumber was installing our UV filtration system to filter and purify the water that goes into the buildings. Water is pumped from our well up to the 10,000 gallon reservoir on the hillside and fed by gravity down to the storage depot, where it goes through the UV filters and into the clinic and other buildings.

10,000 gallon reservoir on the hillside above the clinic.

UV filters installed in a room in the storage depot adjacent to the electrical room.

Our patients were very excited to see the activity that was going on as the electrical and water systems were being finalized and the whole atmosphere up at the site the past few weeks has been extremely positive. The workmen have shown an amazing spirit of cooperation and dedication as they put their hands together to help us accomplish this amazing task. Thank you all for your faithful prayers for us and for our ministry here in Haiti. The Lord is working and we stand together and say “AMEN”!

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