TransAlta volunteers with Light Up The World
From Nov. 8-19, nine volunteers from across TransAlta embarked to Peru for an experience of a life time with Light Up The World (LUTW). For 11 days, plant and office employees shifted roles to become hands-on solar power electricians alongside LUTW technicians to help bring power to a remote Peruvian community.
The eager group of volunteers began their journey in Andahuaylas where they began training with LUTW on basic electric work, including how to wire a house, and they learned about the solar panels to be installed. After training, the team continued to the community of Larcay in the heart of Peru with the mission to install solar systems into the homes that didn’t have access to electricity.
“Spending time in such an under-developed part of the world can truly change your perspective on the comforts we often take for granted. A few hundred dollars’ worth of solar electric equipment can make a huge difference for a family that is used to relying on candles for light,” says Marty Scholten, growth analyst, business development, and LUTW volunteer.
Together, the nine volunteers and local technicians worked to bring power to the Larcay homes. Most homes had dirt floors, one or two bedrooms, small living quarters, thatched roofs covered in black cooking residue and no windows. The families opened the small doors to their homes, and with big hearts, welcomed the TransAlta volunteers.
The solar panel systems the team installed were instantaneous. By the time the team had the system installed and completed, the battery was charged and the lights turned on.
“We had the unique opportunity to actually go back at night to one of the homes our team did since it was within walking distance of our camp. Being able to see the fruits of our labour in action really lighting up the home was extremely gratifying,” says Keith Foster, engineer, electrical controls at TransAlta’s Sarnia plant, and LUTW volunteer.
TransAlta volunteers not only installed solar panels, but also spent time interacting with local families and doing a presentation to the elementary school children. To show their thanks and appreciation, home owners prepared potatoes, homemade cheese, soup and drinks to share.
“We came together as a team because of a common goal and shared values and the end result was better than any of us could have expected. The opportunity to work alongside the locals was very rewarding. We made lifelong memories with our colleagues and the locals, despite the language barrier. It was a trip of a lifetime,” says Colleen Carter, senior communications advisor, and LUTW volunteer.
This was TransAlta’s first volunteer trip with the organization as part of the company’s partnership with LUTW. The non-profit Canadian organization works towards providing sustainable energy solutions and lighting to communities in developing countries. TransAlta partnered with LUTW in 2014 to expand on our company value of making stronger and healthier communities along with developing our employees by providing the opportunity to see electricity at work first hand.
For more information on LUTW, visit their website: http://lutw.org/.