Where to put the Panels… (Abbie Weeks)

After a quick breakfast of tea and a hard boiled egg, we walked the two kilometers of gravel road up to the Nyaka Vocational and Secondary School.

It is much more tropical and humid than I expected. We are trying to pick up the local language, Luchiga, which is only spoken within a 150km radius in Southwestern Uganda.

The students at the Secondary School did not have class today and many were busy studying. A group of girls quickly spotted Lauren and I and showed us around the classrooms. The rooms are very simple: a concrete floor, one chalkboard at the head of the class, 20 or so wooden desks, and one clock near the door.

I was impressed by the students’ meticulous notes and it was interesting to see how similar the curriculum, particularly for biology, was to my own studies.

Almost the first question I was asked, perhaps only after my name and where I was from, was if I had a boyfriend. From my conversation with the girls I learned that dating  in Uganda is very different. In secondary school, no boyfriends/girlfriends are allowed in accordance with an emphasis on academics. We also discussed snow, our families, sports, school subjects, and music. While some of our stories overlapped (apparently Justin Bieber is popular in Uganda), parts of their lives were alien to me. They asked if many people died in my village and I stumbled with my words. These teenagers are friendly and motivated yet many have lost family and dear friends to HIV/AIDS, lung cancer from cooking fires, and gastro-intestinal diseases from poor sanitation and water quality.

DSC03047

We surveyed the roof and area around the computer and biology lab building. As we are equatorial we want to angle the solar panels as parallel to the ground as possible (at a zero degree angle). We anticipated constructing a ground-mounted system, but Nyaka staff worried that on term breaks, the panels may be stolen.

Tomorrow morning Lauren and I will run down here before the sun fully rises to determine where on the roof the panels will receive the maximum duration of sunlight.

Thank you for reading!

Abbie Weeks

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