A new solar light kit may help solve the problem.
Called Klere Ayiti — or Light Up Haiti — the project is the result of a two-year effort among the Haitian money transfer company Sogexpress, Arc Finance, which provides energy to poor people around the world, and Western Union. The Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have also supported the effort.
Introduced Thursday morning at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, Klere Ayiti is a service where Haitian relatives can purchase solar light kits for their families back home. Each solar light kit includes either two or three LED lights, the charging solar panel, and several charging sockets, where cell phones can be charged as well.
The lights can be used as strong flashlights or hung from the ceiling. Charging occurs during the day from solar power, for about eight to 10 hours for a maximum recharge. The kits cost $140 and $180 respectively.
The kits can be ordered on the Klere Ayiti website, paid for at any Western Union location, and received by Haitian relatives within five business days at a Sogexpress location.
While the kits may appear expensive at first, the Haitian diaspora spends between “$60-200 on remittances to family members per month,” said senior energy specialist Greg Watson of IDB. Up to a third of that money usually goes toward energy payments.
“You are investing in something tangible that you know they can use. You can picture it in their home, and you know how they will benefit from it,” he said.
The project organizers chose the models from more than 25 different solar kits they studied over a two-year period.
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