Another world: Light up East Timor


As well as balmy beach-side nights, Tim Adams got lessons in life and new DIY skills on a tour to install solar lighting in East Timor.

When you live in Melbourne, sea breezes, beers on a beachside café balcony and balmy nights don’t immediately come to mind as part of early spring. Shift to East Timor though, and this was exactly the experience on the Light Up East Timor tour in September 2015. It was a perfect time to be in East Timor: being late in the dry season, the humidity was not excessive and disease-carrying mosquitoes were virtually non-existent.

Part holiday, part community development The Light Up East Timor tours run by Timor Adventures and supported by ReNew’s publisher, the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), are part holiday, part community development. Timor-Leste is still recovering after centuries of occupation by the Portuguese and then decades of turmoil under Indonesian rule. The people are rightly proud of their recently won independence, but the full repair of structures, systems and souls will take a very long time.

The ATA has been making a contribution to that repair process for some time with a program that installs solar lighting systems. Although electricity generation and distribution has reached larger centres, there are no plans to extend the network to many remote hillside villages. For those villages, ATA’s approach of installing 20 watts of photovoltaic generation capacity, battery storage and two lights in each house means that many activities can happen after dark, including cooking and reading. The impact on the ability for children to study is profound. Lessons learned from other well-meant aid programs have not been lost on the ATA.

Read the full article in ReNew 134

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