Elizabeth Helmkamp-Staff Writer
Over Christmas break, the AMOR Liberia team installed 20 solar panels at the One Body One Hope children’s home in Monrovia, Liberia.
Renee Ewald, chair of Dordt’s Sustainability Committee that helped set up and fundraise for the solar panel project, said the Dordt College community raised $7,000 of the $10,000 needed for the solar panels. A donor paid the rest. Ewald worked with One Body One Hope Interim Development Coordinator Austin Lindemulder and Dordt College Dean of Chapel Aaron Baart to start the project. Once underway, Lindemulder and Baart took over the financial side of things while Ewald worked on the other dimension of the project: fundraising and a recycling project at Dordt.
This solar panel project and the recycling project at Dordt were two sides of an effort to help reduce waste, both at Dordt and internationally. Dordt started working with One Body One Hope before this recycling project began. Ewald said that One Body One Hope previously paid 49 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity from the grid. As a comparison, Sioux Center’s electricity costs 9 cents per kilowatt-hour.
With the solar panels now installed, Ewald said that One Body One Hope will save $3,000 per year.
The electricity from the grid in Liberia comes from coal power, a system that releases carbon into the air. Solar power does not release carbon into the air, and Ewald explained that solar power is also more reliable than electricity from a grid. As a result, those using solar panels do not experience as many power outages.
“It has allowed them to do so much more with what they already have,” Ewald said. “This is an example of how we can use creative ways to reduce waste, save money and benefit people around the world.”
Mark Schussler, a senior engineering major, traveled with One Body One Hope to install the solar panels during the AMOR Liberia trip. Schussler said working with the people of Liberia was both the hardest and easiest part of his experience. He enjoyed getting to know both the people who traveled with him and the people in Liberia.
“They were really friendly,” Schussler said. “It was different than something you would do in America. The people in Liberia are very relational-based and very trusting of God, and so they weren’t concerned with deadlines or anything like we would be here. And so it was really fun to work alongside them, joke around and really get to know them better through the construction.”
The project was not fully completed during his stay.
“It’s really neat to see God’s hand working through it all, and it will be really cool to see in the future how this benefits the orphanage and the community,” Schussler said. “[AMOR] really opened my eyes to different cultures and how they view God and worship God, trust God, and I learned a lot from them.”