PRINCETON, NJ – In addition to serving the local Trenton and Ewing communities, Bonner scholars take regular strides to engage with the global community as well. At the end of the fall semester, Bonner Scholars Aman Gill and David Sanchez attended the WE SHARE Solar conference at Princeton University. The conference is the first step in the process of gaining vital information regarding the assembly and maintenance of mobile solar units as part of a six-week program in Tanzania. A group of TCNJ students, including Aman and David, will be bringing solar panels to Tanzania this summer.
The conference focused on the mechanics of solar panels, as well as shed some light on energy equity around the world. For many communities, access to vital resources such as electricity is unattainable. Professor Marla Jaksch of the Women and Gender Studies Department and TCNJ students have taken part in the WE SHARE project to bring access to solar power to many communities in Tanzania. The solar panels generate electricity for orphanages, maternal health wards, and other essential facilities. Now that the information on how this technology works and is sustained can be shared, these solar panels are becoming an integral part of life in rural Tanzania.
In addition to solar installation and education, Aman and David will be tasked with maintaining and updating a digital archive of maternal health and women’s lives in rural Tanzania. TCNJ alumni of this trip have cataloged hundreds of images which they collected as part of an ongoing exhibit entitled Hakuna Kama Mama—which translates to “Nobody Like Mama” in Swahili. The purpose of this digital and physical catalog is to give women in Tanzania a medium to voice their perspective on maternity and daily life via photographs.
WE SHARE Solar made a commitment to donating enough mobile solar units so that our Bonner Scholars and fellow TCNJ students may lead a STEM workshop in Tanzania. The workshop will welcome 60 Masaai girls, 10 teachers, and 10 other community leaders to take part in assembling the units and learning about this technology. In addition to the donation of solar units, WE SHARE Solar is subsidizing a portion of the cost for students and providing an additional workshop at TCNJ to prepare the campus community to teach these lessons abroad.
The access to solar energy in developing rural areas can shift the balance of life or death. During one of the first installation projects in a maternal health ward, TCNJ students worked through the day and long into the night after learning that a woman had arrived and was in labor. After grueling hours and drastic temperatures, the child was born under the light bulb powered by the new solar unit. Without this solar unit, doctors and citizens in rural Tanzania are reliant upon candles should delivery continue into the night hours. This is the first year that WE SHARE Solar has partnered with TCNJ to put on this massive workshop. It is an exciting new venture for TCNJ’s Bonner Community Scholars, and one that will hopefully remain a tradition at TCNJ.
For more information about TCNJ’s Tanzania Study Abroad Program, please contact Marla Jaksch at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Hakuna Kama Mama Digital Storytelling Project, visit the link at: http://tcnjartgallery.pages.tcnj.edu/2014/01/16/hakuna-kama-mama-a-photo-voice-exhibition/.
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