Amari was established in 2008 to help relieve the effects of poverty through education, development and welfare programs in developing countries, principally Uganda. The first phase of the project is the education and support of orphaned and vulnerable children. Our aim is to invest in them through quality education and equip each and every child to reach their full potential.
Amari employs about 30 staff (teaching, teaching support, grounds and building, social work and administration). All staff are local except for the administrator (a founding director) and a volunteer assisting with curriculum development. They run a child sponsorship programme (currently with 110 children in the programme), 2 Nursery classes and a P1 & P2 class .
Through the generosity of others they have been able to purchase 40 acres of land from the local community and sitting (what does this mean?) family.
This allowed them to develop a master plan for the site which includes:
• 3 classrooms and storerooms, a school kitchen, staff and visitor accommodation
• A bore hole that is used by the organisation and neighbours
• The erection perimeter fencing and gates
• The planting of trees and experimenting with small garden plots
• The installation of a new solar power array wired to the existing buildings
• They set aside money to help with community projects not directly associated with Amari work
• Help with individual emergencies and medical problems
• Contribute to income-generation initiatives
Future plans include:
• Adding a class each year
• Taking on an additional 25-30 sponsored children each year for the new class
• Adding a secondary and boarding school
• Adding a technical school (it is proposed that all Amari students doing secondary school also do at least one technical subject so they obtain practical as well as academic skills)
• Building a children’s clinic
• Building a community hall
• Developing gardens and rearing livestock to help with self-sustainability
• If the need arises, a couple of on site homes for very vulnerable children
Platinum Solar & Amari
In late 2013, Platinum Solar joined forces with the board of Amari to develop and design a ‘stand alone off grid’ solar power solution for the site. These types of systems are the ideal solution for country areas where there is no electricity network like in the Buliisa District. Stand alone solar systems have also been extensively used in harsh conditions in the Australian outback and conditions in Uganda are very similar.
The main challenge for the team was sourcing suitable local materials and equipment and the importing of goods into Uganda. As a result, equipment was resourced and manufactured in Australia where possible, and the team used their luggage allowance to bring the goods into the country. They were very lucky that the airline did not enforce the maximum weight allowance as most of them were over the weight limit by 10 to 15 kg!
Stage 1 of the solar farm has now been completed with a 5kW solar power array and a 20kW battery backup bank providing the team at Amari with 24hr electricity. The system can be monitored over the Internet and as such, Platinum Solar staff are able to assist Amari with real-time support from their offices in Australia. The system can generate 25kWh’s each day and at present the school is using only 30-40% of the available energy.
This is a huge improvement given there was previously no electricity and the fridges and freezers were running on an old diesel generator. The benefits are many especially in areas like health, safety and security:
• 2 fridges are now connected keeping food fresh
• Each classroom now has at least one light
• Computer equipment is connected
• The local staff can charge their mobiles (they love it)
There are 4 stages currently planned to be implemented over the next ten years. Stage 2 involves doubling the solar array in the existing yard from +5kW to +10kW. This requires a second inverter to be installed in the existing equipment room. It is envisaged that Stage 2 of the project will be built in the next 2 years. Other future plans include the pumping of water from the bore to the school and the installation of security lighting.
The school will be expanding rapidly in the years to come and the beauty of this stand alone solar system is that it can continue to grow with the school. Platinum Solar is very pleased to have been in a position donate time, expertise, equipment and hands on work to make this happen. Platinum Solar could not have achieved this without the support of the following sponsors:
Contribute to the Solar Power Project
Any assistance large or small is greatly needed and appreciated as we continue to plan for stage 2 of the system and monitor the performance of stage 1.
Go to the AMARI web site: www.amari.org.au to sponsor, donate and get involved.