aventurero

this is a collection of images and stories from my school year abroad in nicaragua. I am interning with AsoFenix, a Nicaraguan NGO, and Green Empowerment, a partnering NGO based in Portland, Oregon. My internship is through IE3 global Internships and the University of Washington. It was made possible in part by the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, the GO! Global Scholarship, and the IE3-OUS Chancellor Scholarship. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about these progams or scholarship opportunities.

bicycle power

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This is Bryam. He is an electrical technician trained by AsoFénix in the rural community of Cuajinicuil. This community was a beneficiary of AsoFénix’s first wind turbine project in 2010. AsoFénix worked alongside the community providing technical and financial support as they installed a windmill which generates 1kW of energy, enough to supply 14 homes with basic electrical needs.

When AsoFénix enters a community to assist in installing renewable energy projects, their aim is to have the community to take ownership of the projects. One tactic for accomplishing this goal is to train local technicians from the communities and provide them with working skills and knowledge to build, maintain and repair energy systems.

Bryam was one of three community members to raise his hand at a planning meeting, expressing interest to be trained by AsoFénix and learn how to construct a wind turbine and then wire houses with lights and light switches, batteries and outlets. So when he was 16 years old, Bryam helped wire all 11 houses in his small community to the wind turbine that he helped build.

Bryam now lives in Managua and assists with projects in the communities as well as odd jobs around the office.

In his spare time, Bryam has used his electrical skills to build up a bicycle that was gifted to him. It’s my favorite bike in the world. I would like to give you a brief tour…

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The bike is built up almost entirely from salvaged materials. This little motor connects to a small battery which powers all the bike’s electronics. It is powered by energy harnessed from the spinning wheel.

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Bryam mounted a small solar panel on the handle bars which also connects to the battery, helping out with supplying energy to his vast array of lights, and his radio (which he blasts as he rides to and from our offices).

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Radio and christmas lights…

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The battery also sends power to this outlet, which Bryam can use to charge his cell phone.

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Bryam is continually tinkering with and making changes to his gadgets and the bike’s wiring. In fact, his bike looks completely different now, three weeks after I took these pictures. He’s incredibly resourceful and creative.

At the moment he’s trying to figure out a way to attend the National Engineering University in Managua, where he can formally study electrical engineering, but he’s facing challenges.

There are opportunities for people to attend college for free if they score in the top 10% on a nationwide, standardized test. This is how multiple engineers at AsoFénix were able to attended college.

However in rural communities like Cuajinicuil, students only attend high school once a week (due to the remoteness of the communities to the nearest high school). Because of this, it is very rare for students in rural communities to score well enough on the exams to attend university for free– and it’s just as rare for families to be able to afford to send their kids to university.

That being said, Bryam is still trying. He has a chance to take the test once a year, but he’s competing with students who’ve received five times the amount of class time and instruction as he did. And although Bryam has a wealth of hands-on experience installing and maintaining renewable energy projects, his math skills are way behind the other students.

Still, Bryam is a pretty determined person. If he doesn’t end up in university, he has expressed interest in attending a technical school as well. That being said, my friend and I are going to try to help him with his math skills when we can, he has about 8 months to prepare for next year’s exam so…let the tutoring begin.

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