Peru Solar Lights Project
Val Pitkethly has single handily been the driving force that has seen individual solar lights installed in over 4000 households in remote villages in the Huayhuash and Cordiller Blanca. Val is a full-time adventure trek leader and, as such, spends half of every year in Peru leading groups. Her work has taken her into the remoter mountain regions of Peru and she became aware of the need to provide lighting for those villages without electricity. During the 10 years that Val has been leading this project, she has visited 4000 homes, between 17 villages. These are all villages that have no access to a mains power supply and the portable lights mean that villagers can have light in their homes, enabling them to help anyone who is ill during the night, tend to sick cattle and help their children with school studies in the evening. Since the project began a decade ago, only two of the villages now have access to mains electricity.
The lights require 7 to 8 hours charge in daylight (direct sun is not required) and will provide approx. 4 to 5 hours of light from a single light bulb each night. The lights are cleaner, cheaper and healthier to use than candles or kerosene. Using LED bulbs, they are also very efficient and draw a fraction of the charge of ordinary incandescent lights. Every year Val has sourced the best solar lights available, purchased in Canada. Originally, each unit had approx 21 bulbs and lasted for about 6 years. The recent units now have one LED bulb, which omits more light than the older versions. The most recent versions will last for approx 15 years and the batteries will need replacing every four years. The village committees are responsible for raising the necessary funds to pay for replacement batteries, which they are able to do. The lights have been a success in the villages, especially amongst the children who now have the opportunity to study in better light.
Val now visits about three villages each year and focuses on one district at a time. The elderly and widowed women with children are given priority. In July 2013, Val plans to visit three villages in the Cordillera Blanca: Yanghiroa, Pastopapcha and Gultwachipa. The Juniper Trust is seeking funds to continue our support of this very worthwhile project. It costs approximately £18 per unit and Val is hoping to raise funds for 300 lights this year so a total of approx £5400 is needed. Cotswold Outdoors have chosen to support this project, among others, and have donated £2000. Any further help will be gratefully received