A group of volunteers from an Opus Dei centre in Singapore spent more than a week installing solar and wind power systems for Philippine villagers affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
From May 25-June 2, the group from the Ravenahl centre– comprising eight students and young professionals, two university lecturers, and a priest, Fr Jose Pedro Libano – took part in the social project in Tolosa, Philippines, as part of an annual effort to help the less fortunate.
The town is less than 30 minutes away from Tacoloban, which was badly hit by the typhoon in November 2013.
During their trip, the team installed seven solar power systems to villages, providing light and electricity to more than 20 homes.
A hybrid wind turbine and solar system was installed in the local primary school to provide electricity and light to classrooms. The team also put up two solar lamps outside the church, along an important path that many people take.
After the typhoon, the supply of electricity in the town was lost and generators were used to provide electricity. However, prices were very high.
The solar power systems provide a free alternative to these communities.
The villagers, and especially the beneficiaries, cheered when they turned on the light bulbs in the houses after the team installed the solar panels, batteries, electrical system and light bulbs, and sang praises to God.
One family that benefited from the electricity was rearing a pig, not for their own consumption but to be used as payment for medical bills when the pregnant wife delivered her baby.
The team also interacted with the villagers including the children, who came to school to use the basketball court and field even though it was the school holidays.
Apparently, this was their only form of leisure during the day. At night, many of the children sit on the porches of their homes as most houses lack electricity.
This social service project was done in cooperation with Project Enkindle, an NGO in the Philippines, which provides rehabilitation for typhoon-affected communities by providing renewable energy sources.
Funds used to purchase the equipment for this project came from a foundation and other generous donors.
In previous years, volunteers from the Ravenahl centre had helped to build houses and schools in rural areas in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and India.
By Eugene Siow