This August I will be traveling to Burundi with a team to install a 120kw solar array for a teaching hospital in the rural state of Gitega.
Burundi, about the size of Maryland, is one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in Africa, falling just under South Korea and India in terms of density. It is also one of the poorest countries on earth, with a GDP per capita of $750 USD.
Kibuye Hope Hospital was founded in 1946 by the Free Methodist Church. Now under full Burundian leadership, the hospital’s 205 beds serve as the only surgical facility for 2 — 4 million people.
The hospital serves about 30,000 patients per year, and offers comprehensive treatments ranging from a neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) to brain surgery.
It also serves as the teaching hospital for Hope Africa University, the largest private university in the country. Medical students practice their residency at Kibuye, studying under resident doctors as well as volunteer physicians from around the world.
The most pressing problem facing Kibuye Hope Hospital is reliable power. Their hydroelectric and diesel generator power sources can augment the intermittent utility power, but breakdowns and lack of consistent fuel supply still cause power blackouts. These blackouts cost lives, especially in the NICU.
A group of volunteer engineers, electricians, and linemen, through I-TEC, a Pennsylvania non-profit, traveled to Kibuye Hope in 2016 for an initial design survey of the hospital. In the last two years, they have designed and built a solar array and battery backup system that is currently on its way across Eastern Africa by truck.
I am trying to figure out a good method of sharing my progress leading up to the trip. I want to be able to blog extensively while I am there, and I figured that experimenting with this blog in the next couple months would be a good start.
Here goes nothing