Members of Peace Corps Volunteer Stephanie Bergado’s small island community pull the boat used to access their local health center boat to shore.
Stephanie is currently raising funds with her community in Vanuatu to install solar panels in the local community health center that will allow patients to be effectively treated after dark. The health center serves all 126 members of Bergado’s small island community and currently operates by flashlight or kerosene lamp during night hours.
“The community relies heavily on the health center for all of its services, day and night, but many community members are reluctant to seek medical care when it’s dark,” said Bergado, a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University who has been living and working in Vanuatu since October 2011. “This can cause serious health complications and in some cases long term problems. The island is very isolated, and it can be extremely hard to receive batteries for flashlights or kerosene for lamps. This kind of patient care can be very difficult at times and can seriously affect the treatment given to a patient.”
Funds raised by Bergado’s project will go toward purchasing a solar panel package with all the necessary equipment and materials. The community has agreed to contribute the cost of transporting the materials and labor needed to install the panels. In order to receive funding through the PCPP, a community must make a 25 percent contribution to the total project and outline success indicators for the individual projects. This helps ensure community ownership and a greater chance of long-term sustainability.
“The health center building itself is strong and impressive, but without adequate lighting, it is crippled and it cannot have the positive effect it was intended to,” continued Bergado. “With a constant, renewable source of light from the solar panels, the health center can really make a difference for the health and well-being of my community.”