FAIRFIELD — Nine Armijo High School students worked Friday to bring light to an orphanage in Uganda and to doctors working in rural Haiti.
They went to Solano Community College to assemble five “solar suitcases.” The small units cost about $800 apiece, can light a room for three days and can be recharged in eight hours using solar power. They are indeed housed in suitcases.
“There are people out there who have no light,” said Armijo High senior Ezequiel Rodriquez, who wants to be an electrician. “We don’t really think about it.”
Senior Jose Solorio is another student in the Armijo High advanced building trades class who answered the call to assemble the suitcases. He said that some places don’t have the resources or technology to move forward.
“I wanted to do it because I want to help people out,” Solorio said.
So he and the other student sat at wooden tables and worked on the circuit breakers, switches and wire connections. Overseeing the effort was Alan Jensen, who teaches green architecture and solar technology at a Monterey County continuation high school.
The students are learning hands-on electrical and solar skills, Jensen said. Plus, he said, the humanitarian aspect is huge, to be able to bring light around the world.
About 1.2 billion people, one out of every six in the world, have no electricity, Jensen said.
Al Maddalena, who taught shop classes at Armijo High for more than 40 years before retiring in 2005, watched the proceedings. He said the students have also been working on two Habitat for Humanity homes being built at Clay and Acacia streets in Fairfield.
Those Habitat for Humanity homes will have solar panels. Maddalena expressed hope that the students can be there to watch those panels get installed.
A Sacramento-based nonprofit group called Green Technical Education and Employment spearheaded the “solar suitcase” event. Simeon Gant of the group will deliver two suitcases to Haiti.
Students are being introduced to potential jobs, such as being an electrician or doing solar installation work, Gant said. Plus, he said, the students are being humanitarians.
“That’s a two-for,” Gant said.
Gant graduated from Fairfield High School in 1987. He started Green Tech in 2009 to help develop clean energy work force skills.
“It just feels good to me to be able to bring this back to my hometown,” Gant said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.