3. apr, 2019

Repost fra blogg.glavaenergycenter.se

Dette er en repost fra Glava Energy Center sin blogg fra 11.03.19

ASYV Solar Park and Youth Village in Rwanda

View from the Genocide Memorial Museum. It´s not just a museum for tourists, the locals also use it as a memorial ”graveyard” to be closer to their family members who died in the genocide

I went to the Genocide Memorial Museum, and literally cried the entire time. Listening to their stories was completely heartbreaking. However, Rwanda really surprised me. There was no doubt that this was a country working hard for change. Rwanda wasn´t like any other African country I’ve ever visited before. Actually, I don’t think I´ve ever seen a country so clean in my life. They have local cleaning days, and littering is completely illegal, which was really interesting as I just came from Uganda where there is trash everywhere. 

The genocide museum

It was also clear that this was a military-run country. In every pedestrian crossover there was one or two traffic police officers with big guns, standing there, making sure everybody followed the rules and crossed the road safely. We tried to get 5 people into a taxi with four seats (which is completely normal in other African countries), but the taxi driver would not drive with one to many. They all follow the rules in this country. 

I spent my time in Rwanda relaxing and getting to know the people at my hostel and the city of Kigali. After Uganda and the 10 hour long bus drive, I really needed some time off. We went to the local market and walked around. Everywhere felt safe to walk, even at night. 

Looking around the colourful market

I also got to visit my friend Paradis, who I first met in Uganda, but lives in Kigali. We went out for food and drinks, and had such a great time. 

Me and Paradis went to Pili Pili, a beautiful restaurant and bar with an amazing view.

The reason I came to Rwanda, was because I wanted to see one of Scatec Solars´s solar parks. I really wanted to see this one because it was connected to a Youth Village for genocide victims called ASYV (Agahozo Shalom Youth Village). 

On one of my last days, I brought two friends from my hostel to see the solar park. I was happy to have some company. We took the local bus for about an hour, followed by a 15 minute ride on motorbike taxies. Mine had a flat tire (not a surprise on these crazy dirt roads), so I had to hitch a ride with one of my friends. And so again, we were 3 people driving on a motorbike on dirt roads, (just like I did the entire time in Uganda.)

The driver, me and my friend Arvand on one motorbike. I had to give my helmet back to the driver with the flat tire..

We used several hours wandering around the park, getting everything explained by Scatec Solar´s Employee, Twaha. This was my first real solar park visit, and it was absolutely amazing to see the technology in action. The park was 8,4 MW which covers about 5-8% of Rwanda´s energy. The park consists of 28360 solar modules, all with trackers, so that they move towards the sun. The land belongs so ASYV, which benefits in the form of a certain percentage of free energy. The park was also named after the woman who started ASYV, Anne Heyman. 

Anne Heyman Solar FieldWe visited the park at noon, so the panels tracker made sure they were completely flat to absorb as much sun as possible.Me and my friends exploring the solar parkTwaha showing me the inside of the central inverterMy favourite viewThe solar park also doubled as a small pineapple farmYou can see the solar panels in the backgroundMe and Twaha, the Scatec Solar site engineer who showed us around. 

Afterwards, we went to the Youth Village to get a tour. ASYV holds about 500 teenagers, who was somehow affected by the genocide. Their main aim is to “heal the heart” of the teenagers which then again will “heal the world” (or their nation Rwanda). Every year they reach out to the different parts of Rwanda, and ask for the 10 most vulnerable teenagers they have. They then pick the 3-4 of the absolutely worst neglected teens to join their youth village. There they are divided into families, with a nice house and a “mama” (usually a woman who lost her own children in the genocide, so it helps to heal her too). So they basically give them a family, school, lots of activities and a home for 4 years, to heal their hearts. They also have holidays where they can visit their hometowns. It´s all very interesting how they have found a system which seems to be working, to help these kids, and therefore also, the future of Rwanda. 

The family homes. About 20 girls or 25 boys live with one ”Mama” in each of these houses. The dining room. We started our tour by eating lunch (they eat beans and rice every day) with the over 500 students and the staff. (But I was not allowed to take a photo while they were there, which is why it looks so empty)Can you imagine having to cook for 500-600 people for every meal, every day? This is the size of the pots they use. Most of the food they grow on their own land. 

Visiting this solar park and this youth village gave me hope that Rwanda will be ok in the end. It’s a country on it´s way to recovery, still trying to heal from the loss of their 2 million family members. It´s so inspiring to see them all focusing on looking forward, instead of looking back for revenge. To be honest, I have never felt more safe in an African country ever before. 

Big thanks to Twaha and Scatec Solar for taking the time to show me around!

Stay tuned!
– Christina