Puerto Maldonado project - Follow the adventure of Electricians without borders in Peru

Here is our fifth interview with Bernard Bonnefoy, the leader of the Puerto Maldonado project. He reports on the first deployment mission in five villages located a day’s travel away by dugout canoe along the Madre de Dios River.

Puerto Maldonado project

Bernard, you told us a report but have you had the opportunity of returning to Peru?

We have in last August, during a trip and summer camp in Puerto Maldonado with a teacher and seven students from IUT (university technology institute) in Nimes (southern France) in order to set up a photovoltaic plant on one of the orphanages.

The students’ project consisted of designing, financing and completing an emergency lighting system, powered by PV panels, for the “El Principito” orphanage.

Throughout our stay at the orphanage, very strong ties were developed with the children there, most of which had a tragic start in life. For these children, the students were like big brothers from abroad, and we were for them the missing adults, parents or grandparents.

And, at the end of the project, the parting was heartbreak.

I for one will have a chance to return and see again all the members of this family!

 Puerto Maldonado project

Have you been able to return to the villages in order to assess the condition of the plants installed in 2011?

A meeting in Puerto Maldonado with Health & Education Ministry managers first enabled us to take stock of the plants installed.

They told us how happy the local staff are to work in better conditions and get more satisfactory results, both when attending to patients and with pupils who now have new school equipment which makes it possible to stay in the classroom after 6 p.m. 

They also confirmed that local staff appreciate the added comfort brought by lighting in their houses at night. In order to take stock of the first achievement, the Ministries organized a tour to enable us to visit the villages concerned. 

Puerto Maldonado project

What have been the outcomes of this visit?

In the villages, we were pleased to note that all plants are operational and maintained. This means that the beneficiary local communities really value their equipment and ensure it is operating smoothly.
The installation of the Palma Real village, which had been destroyed by lightning, was repaired by Manuel—the young electrician who used to work with us—to whom the Ministries subcontracted maintenance and repair services. Since then, this installation has been fully operational again.

The teachers showed us the PCs they use in the classroom as well as the additions that have been made to the installation.
Finally, interviews with the nurses and teachers corroborated our previous email exchanges about the changes brought by electricity.

One nurse, who is in her thirties and comes from the town of Cuzco, told us that if she were to leave the healthcare delivery point, it would close down permanently, leaving the villagers without any possibility to receive healthcare. She has been stationed in this village for seven years and said that lighting has significantly improved the quality of both her professional and personal life.

Puerto Maldonado project

Did the young students take part in these visits? What did they gain from this experience?

Yes, after completing their summer camp, the lUT students came with us for all these visits. After spending two weeks in Puerto Maldonado, we traveled to Cuzco, the ancient Inca capital, which is at an elevation of 3,300 m. Then we headed toward Lake Titicaca, where we initiated cooperation with the Indians who live on the lake’s islands. 

Do you have any additional projects?

The managers said they wished some support for further similar projects, and a list of five more villages was defined with a view to installing electricity in healthcare delivery points and schools.
This time, the selected villages are far more distant and isolated in the Amazon forest.
Partnership activities have been decided and materialized by the signing of an agreement, scheduled for completion in the second half of 2013.

But, rendezvous in our next interviews...I will describe the preparations for the second deployment mission, scheduled for August/September 2013

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