Solar light project to brighten poor homes

10 October 2013

Technical vocational training involving women and persons with disabilities (PWDs) and embarking on green technology will soon bring brightness into the lives of the country's poor.

The trainees will be taught to assemble solar bottle bulbs using plastic bottles filled with water through a joint project of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and My Shelter Foundation.  The initiative aims to light about 400 households in selected areas in fourth, fifth and sixth class municipalities by November 30 this year.

My Shelter Foundation brought its project, the Liter of Light, to TESDA in a collaboration that will meld the group's unique technology with the government agency's skills expertise.

On Thursday, October 10, the Green Pavilion was also launched at the TESDA Complex in Taguig City with the support from US Embassy headed by Ambassador Harry Thomas, Manly Plastics, Dimension-all, and Sica Glue.

Secretary Joel Villanueva said the project is a perfect partnership using the agency's expertise in tech-voc training to help promote green technology and help uplift the lives of the poor through cheap, if not free, light.

"TESDA is upbeat to be part of this novel initiative.  Indeed, a liter of light will go a long way," Villanueva said.

"We look forward to continuing partnerships in green technologies with My Shelter Foundation, the US Embassy, and other partners from the private sector as we affirm our hope for a sustainable future for us and our one and only Planet Earth," he added.

The Green Pavilion, which was earlier set up at the Rizal Park in Manila, will serve as production and exhibition facility inside the TESDA complex until December this year. Composed of colorful plastic crates, it will be a working classroom that will feature revolutionary green technologies as well as a space to design and build products out of recycled materials.

The Green Pavilion will be the venue where solar upgrade units using recycled bottles will be assembled. Volunteer workers, mostly women and PWDs are now undergoing training in electronics, specifically for the assembly of solar bottle bulbs and installation in houses in identified project areas.

During its stay in TESDA, the Green Pavilion will also be a production center where trained volunteers will assemble solar mobile chargers and LED lights for use in Habitat for Humanity communities.

"I was informed that the US embassy has made an initial grant of US $10,000 for the Liter of Light program to support this project," Villanueva said.

By November 30, some 400 homes will be illuminated by the solar bulbs assembled by the TESDA volunteers, according to Ilac Diaz, executive director of My Shelter Foundation.

He said the lighting of the homes will be timed with the country's commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, who began the revolution for independence. With the project, the country is now embarking on a new green revolution, he added.

In a country which charges one of the most expensive rates of electricity, the free and environment-friendly solar bottle bulbs especially among poor households is a welcome innovation.

The program, inspired by the innovation of Brazilian mechanic Alfredo Moser, has lit up 28,000 homes in Manila since the project began in 2011 and has since expanded to India, Indonesia and Switzerland, according to the group's website.

The bottle is filled with water, a pinch of bleach and pieces of materials that reflect light to produce the solar bulb. It is capable of emitting up to 55 watts.

Villanueva also announced that TESDA Training Institutions nationwide have undertaken green initiatives in green technology including vermicomposting, tissue culture in agriculture, bio-organic rice production, solar-powered gadgets, plastic bottle lights, rainwater harvesting, vertical garden systems, and window farm hydroponics.

"While most of these projects are still in their incubation stages, TESDA is confident that with a little more help and encouragement from our partners, we can pursue them to become mature and fully applicable technologies," he said.

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