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How the Kiva community is expanding access to electricity in Haiti

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Like Delene, more than 75 percent of the population in Haiti lacks access to electricity.

Regardless of being off the grid, the courageous single mother and business owner would stay resilient to make the best out of her circumstances, staying positive and doing what she could. Yet, the reality of not having electricity was still present.

So, how would she cook her delicious Haitian stew in the evening? How would her son do his homework once the sun went down?

Delene, like many Haitians, would rely on kerosene lamps.

Kerosene is a fuel oil and is obtained by distilling petroleum. While it's mainly used to power jet engines of aircrafts and heaters, many also use it to power lamps.

According to the Health Protection Agency, the fuel oil is known to be dangerous to people’s health, causing risk of respiratory irritation, dermatitis and more. Additionally, it's expensive, causing off-the-grid households to spend, on average, 25% of their incomes on the oil.

Regardless of the risk and expense, a clean alternative was not widely available nor affordable to Delene and most of her neighbors.

That is, until our Field Partner Earth Spark International visited the area of Les Anglais, Haiti.

Earth Spark International started developing a full-scale, solar-powered microgrid for residents of the rural community. What started out as helping 14 homes get electricity, resulted in 54 homes. Now, Earth Spark International aims to assist more than 500 households in the rural community of Les Anglais in Haiti.

Delene is one of the many who have benefited from the solar-powered microgrid.

While she was ready to switch to a reliable and clean power source, she needed assistance paying for the connection. The Kiva community of lenders stepped in to give a helping hand to the hardworking mother and shopkeeper.

A Kiva loan of $325 powered by 13 lenders gave Delene the opportunity to connect to the solar grid. This means that she can now cook her favorite Haitian stew at night and her son can do his homework after any time of the evening. Most importantly, her family is no longer at risk of getting sick due to inhaling toxic chemicals that were produced by kerosene. Her lifestyle changed thanks to her own hard work and the help of 13 Kiva lenders.

About the author

Idania Ramirez

With a passion for travel and social justice, Idania Ramirez seeks to continue helping others connect via media. She sees human connection as a vital aspect in understanding humanity. She loves culture, community, chocolate and "self-help" books. As a first generation Mexican American, she strives to break barriers for herself, her family and others. She has reported as a multi-media journalist on the Texas-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, been in the indigenous villages of Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala and recently worked at NBC Universal's Telemundo in San Antonio as a video journalist. She hopes to bring Kiva's mission throughout Latin America and give a window of reality of that region of the world to those who cannot travel there.