blueEnergy is a fantastic organization that makes the most out of its limited resources. Nothing is wasted and operations run efficiently and effectively. More importantly, they are committed to employing local citizens which makes for and excellent cultural exchange. It also builds local capacity to solve problems so that impact can last even after volunteers leave.
blueEnergy is an extremely mature organization with a vision and agenda for delivering lasting, sustainable improvements to the quality of life of its beneficiaries in Nicaragua. This past summer, I worked within their Energy Team as a volunteer evaluating the efficiency of the off-grid solar technologies that they use to increase rural electrification and improve access to water. Overall, I was very impressed to see how efficiently blueEnergy uses its resources and how large an emphasis is placed on metric-based evaluations of project effectiveness.
With regard to its administration, blueEnergy is focused on project documentation; building local capacity in terms of staffing and educational initiatives; and developing projects that are accurately tailored to the needs of the communities it serves. Moreover, the group is quite progressive in its efforts around information management and communication. The significance of these factors cannot be understated, as they are absolutely fundamental to its goals of delivering LASTING energy, water, and sanitation solutions in Nicaragua.
****I will continue to support blueEnergy as a donor in the years to come because i know first hand their mission continues to build future capacity while simultaneously achieving a remarkable impact for end users***
I volunteered with blueEnergy in January 2012 to design, built and install a 100 watt solar energy system for an off-grid Nicaraguan family. Additionally, I interned with blueEnergy during the summer of 2012 in their San Francisco office working on business development and fundraising.
I've been a donor of blueEnergy since almost its inception, and have followed the organization's progress closely. In contrast to many organizations, blueEnergy takes a long-term approach to development, and understands that short-term, immediate impact is often…short-term impact. Their deep commitment to the communities they serve stands in stark and powerful contrast to the "soccer ball flashlight" style of project that gets a lot of attention but delivers little real, lasting value.
In May 2012, I participated as a volunteer in the installation of a solar powered cellphone tower in a small Rama Indian village on the Rio Kukra, about 40 miles from southwest from Bluefields, Nicaragua - where blueEnergy is located. This was a fascinating experience, as I had a chance to witness the convergence of modern technological innovations with traditional rural lifestyles, and to see how the availability of cellphone communication can have a positive impact on the social connectedness and economic activities of the village with the outside world. I have also been a donor to blueEnergy for the past few years. I recommend this organization highly.
I was drawn to blueEnergy by its unique local approach in development. While so many actors choose instead to build a turbine and leave forever, blueEnergy had a training curriculum, a permanent presence, and most importantly, manufactured and maintained turbines locally. It is touching to see an organization that can involve itself in so many fronts, without losing focus of the key energy milestones it was created to service. Particularly touching was a training seminar in which 9 operators received diplomas, invited their families, and returned to their communities where they were then capable of servicing problems that may occur with the turbines. Instead of relying on Western return trips, local training provides both a feeling of social ownership and pride, as well as a transfer of technological know-how. blueEnergy is innovative, entrepreneurial, and most importantly, working for people who desperately need them.
I volunteered in blueEnergy for five months from December 07 to May 08. As soon as I discovered blueEnergy in 2006 I have been fascinated by this NGO, who fully integrates solutions for development in one of the poorest region of the world. Indeed blueEnergy not only provides cheap energy using renewable energy systems in remote communities of Nicaragua, but also creates local employment for building these systems. Moreover, blueEnergy spread skills, training both its own workers and community operators for running energy systems. Environment, better life conditions, education and employment are linked together. My role was to start blueEnergy's studies about water. Water is an important issue on the east coast of Nicaragua, where basically no one has access to a drink water delivery network. After many meetings with specialized NGOs and studies of different appropriate water technologies, blueEnergy started the production of the Biosand Filter, a point-of-use device that can significantly reduce the contamination level of water. Volunteers and employees of blueEnergy have been specifically trained by CAWST (Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technologies). Back in France, I keep working on the water topic : new volunteers run the filters production in Nicaragua, and I try to find funds to support the water project. Our goal for the next months is to have new training session for being able to produce more efficient filters and test them. Then the filters will be installed at blueEnergy's workers to see if they really fit the needs of the population. Finally, a pilot project will be to implement the filters in a remote community, after having trained this community to water and hygiene issues. blueEnergy has such a good intern organisation that it is easily possible to keep working for projects from France. I find it very exceiting to be able to work for development from France in my daily life.
I chose to work with blueEnergy because of their commitment to real, positive change over the long haul. blueEnergy provides sustainable electricity to rural populations that would otherwise rely entirely on candles and diesel generators, but they are dedicated to doing so in a manner that will remain viable for generations. This is achieved through a strong emphasis on education, training and local ownership. All of blueEnergy's wind turbines are manufactured by local residents in Bluefields, Nicaragua and installed in outlying communities with the support and integration of leading members of those communities. Each community nominates a community operator who receives hands-on training and is responsible for the upkeep of their community's energy system. As a result of this method and the history of blueEnergy as an organization, strong personal relationships are developed between community members and blueEnergy staff and volunteers while simultaneously empowering communities with ownership of their energy systems. The volunteers in Bluefields work side by side in the workshop with local laborers and share experience, meals and friendships everyday. On trips to the communities, blueEnergy staff and volunteers are welcomed into individual homes and integrated into the fabric of the community for the duration of their stay. The long standing relationships that have been established by local staff and long term volunteers in both the outlying communities and in Bluefields itself, have created a strong foundation of trust and respect for the organization. As a result, new volunteers are welcomed to the region with open arms and are able to immediately accomplish positive results that would take independent operators years to achieve. For example, I was recently investigating the possibility of harvesting locally grown bamboo for use as a building material, but had no idea where to start. The director of blueEnergy Nicaragua suggested that I start by talking to an old family friend who had some experience working with bamboo. As soon as I met with him and explained my position within blueEnergy, he offered to give up his weekend and accompany me, at his own expense, to a bamboo cooperative located a few hours up the river. His willingness to do so was based entirely upon his previous positive experiences with blueEnergy and his trust in our ability to achieve lasting results.