In two weeks, we setup 4 solar power charging stations, and wired up 135 houses for electricity in Gikomero, outside Kigali in Rwanda. This exceeded our expectations. Initially, based on past experience, we expect to be able to wire up ~100 houses, and leave the rest of the houses to the local youths to finish. It turns out we are quite a bit faster than we thought.
There are a number of reasons for that. The team is comprised of 2 professors, 1 staff, 3 student assistants, and 16 students from PolyU. But we also have 8 students from University of Rwanda and 14 local Gikomero youths with us. Making up a team of 44 people. These Gikomero youths have been working with us for the past 3 years, hence they are quite familiar with the project, and are a great help.
We have distributed some of the tasks that used to be done by the teaching team. These include making maps for the location of all the houses, managing inventories of all the tools (drills, hammers, …) and consumables (cables, lamps, controllers, …). The students learn more from the responsibility and improve the overall efficiency of the project.
We have 3 very capable students assistants. We are more familiar with the local environment and the city. Such that we can procure needed equipment and material more efficiently. With the many years of experience working together, our team and the AEE team know each other well and are able to work more efficiently and adapt to challenges more effectively.
All of these teach us that having a partner that is capable and sharing a common vision, a long term and stable collaborating relationship, a desire to continue to improve, and ultimately, experience, is critical to the success of an international service-learning project in such challenging environment.s