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Working with the world's poorest people to transform their lives

Shining a light in Liberia

Paul McCallion first joined Concern as a volunteer. Seven years later, Paul is now on the Overseas Electrical Team, bringing energy and electricity to Concern projects.

Rural Liberia has no electrical infrastructure. To improve the service supplied by Concern in its Farmers’ Resources Centres, electricity was needed, urgently. The usual method of installation using poles and wires, could take up to 15 years.

So, in February 2009, Paul travelled to Grand Bassa County, to set up solar energy for one of these centres.

Challenge

Paul and a team of six local men had a lot to do, in very little time. There were a number of challenges. The buildings were weak and they were without basic tools, like ladders.

Iron wood

Their first task was to attach solar panels to a steel frame and then fix it to the roof. However, the roof wasn’t strong enough to support it. The team reinforced the roof with a local “iron wood.” This wood was so strong that nails bent against it, making it impossible to use elsewhere.

The centre’s walls were made originally from mud brick. When the team started adding outlets and sockets, the mud brick couldn’t withstand the blows of a hammer, so walls fell apart!

Lights and action

All of the walls needed reinforcing, using another kind of wood. In the end it was well worth it, when the team turned on the lights for the first time.

Heart of the community

Solar energy is now used to provide light for adult literacy classes and security. Teachers and students no longer have to shout above the noise of the generator, greatly improving the quality of teaching.

In fact, the centre has now become the heart of the community. It’s a place for people to meet, to set up stalls for trade, to watch a movie, or to read and write.

Improving livelihoods

Farmers’ Resource Centres, like the one Paul and his team worked on, are multi-purpose centres, serving mainly as a training facility for farmers. They have proved to be extremely effective in helping farmers enhance their livelihoods.

Thank you to everyone who supported our appeal for Liberia’s Farmer’s Resource Centres, last year.

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