The First Presbyterian Church of Mena recently sent both Bill Hays and Roy Vail to Honduras. Their trip was part of an international program of the Presbyterian Church called Solar Under the Sun, which places solar electrical systems in remote communities that are not on the electrical grid. Both Bill Hays and Roy Vail have received special training for this at the Ferndale Presbyterian Camp in Little Rock.
The Honduras trip included Bill Hays and Roy Vail from Mena, Harold Young from Ponca City, Oklahoma, and Emily Fausett from Shreveport, Louisiana, who was the director of the trip. This was a ‘survey trip,’ made to establish where the systems should be, who is responsible for them, and how they will be cared for.
The group went to the communities of El Sute and El Horno in a high and mountainous coffee growing area. Getting there took two hours of driving over rough and rocky unpaved roads from the nearest modern city, Comayagua. Once there, they unloaded where they would spend their nights, in a church. The church building had been funded by other Presbyterian churches and built by locals. Attached to it was a building with a solar powered water filtration system funded and installed earlier by a group of Presbyterian churches in Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas.
The current project was to install smaller solar electrical systems in homes. On a worldwide basis, people trying to light their homes at night, with no electricity, produces so much toxic pollution in those homes that it kills more people than AIDS.
Emily Fausett, fluent in Spanish, worked with locals, who were lead by their church pastors. She found they were very community oriented. They soon held their own group meeting and developed a list of which homes should be surveyed.
The group only had two nights they could stay. Homes were typically, a family room, two bedrooms, an open fire cooking area, and a porch. Each home had to be measured, and diagramed, so the best locations for the solar panels, wiring, system board, lead acid battery, and lights, could be decided. Bill Hays and Roy Vail did the inside measuring, Harold Young and Emily Fausett did outside measuring and collected family information. Homes were often only accessible by trails, now and then with barbed wire fences that had to be crawled under. The team of four managed to complete nineteen homes.
The next trip will be to make installations. Scheduling any such trip requires detail planning. To work, trips must: avoid rainy seasons, be when vital local people are available, be when members of the group can go, and, the equipment they will need must already be bought and in place, ready to use.
Conference phone calls have establish that the second week of January 2017, will be the best time for the return instillation trip. Both Bill Hays and Roy Vail will be part of this group. The First Presbyterian Church of Mena will sponsor their travel, and has, so far, and is committed to sponsor the installation of solar electrical systems in the homes of six families.