We Celebrate Earth Day with Clean Energy in Rural South Sudan


To anyone here in the U. S. where electricity is common, it is not unusual to see lights emitting from windows at night. In rural South Sudan, however, electricity is almost non-existent, so these lights coming from our multi-purpose community center in the village of Rhumathoi, Wunlang Payam, are the cause of much excitement for all of us at Village Help for South Sudan. We celebrate Earth Day 2013 with clean energy and the benefits this brings to Rhumathoi – and the environment!

Solar Panels

With support from IEEE’s Community Solutions Initiative, the solar electric generating system at the center is now complete. This project not only provides lighting for the facility, but the system will be run as a small business by a community-elected energy entrepreneur who will sell electricity to rural homes at prices the local residents can afford. Proceeds pay the entrepreneur’s income as well as operations costs at the multi-purpose community center. Mou Riiny, our electrical engineer, and his team completed a market survey several months ago to determine the price rural customers can pay for electricity.

Interior ComponentsInterior Components


Residential electricity is provided in the form of take-home rechargeable battery packs and lighting kits (PBKs). The initial pilot will test a PBK from BBOXX which has similar operations in other countries in Africa. IEEE-CSI has developed an open-source design for another PBK (pictured here), however, and our goal is to set up an assembly plant in South Sudan to produce these units locally.


Our solar business pilot aims to help Mou Riiny establish his for-profit social enterprise to be called SunGate Solar. SunGate will be owned and operated by Mou, and will provide jobs and opportunity to many of his fellow South Sudanese citizens. Mou’s initial solar project is now operating in the village of Thiou at our primary school for that area.

*Social enterprises are businesses that:

  1. Use the marketplace to solve pressing social problems.
  2. Have a primary purpose to do social good.
  3. Serve the common good, making money while solving social problems.
  4. Are values-led and committed to the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.
  5. Use the power of business for positive social change.
  6. Believe the bottom line and social change can be hardwired together.
  7. Develop and sell products or services that address social or environmental issues.
  8. Are values-centered, transparent, and in business for the benefit of all stakeholders.
  9. Are dedicated to making a sustained, positive impact on social and environmental change.
  10. Believe what is good for the world is good for business.

*Source: npEnterprise Forum edited by Rolfe Larson

See more pictures from the solar installation at the Rhumathoi community center here.

Wunlang Clinic gets medical supplies and midwife kits!

As previous posts have documented, our support enabled the villagers in Wunlang to build their own small health center.

Stocking Clinic Supplies

A local citizen has returned to the village after receiving training and working as a nurse for a large international humanitarian aid organization. The community has selected him to run the small clinic. Here our field manager assists him in stocking medical supplies at the Wunlang Clinic.

When the program is fully implemented, patients will pay small fees for treatment to help sustain operations.

Midwife Kits

Midwife kits donated from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Arlington have also arrived in Wunlang. Here they are shown in bags after the original boxes were damaged in transit, and they had to be re-packaged in Juba. The kits are now in storage at the clinic and will be distributed as needed to delivering moms and their newborns.

Midwife Kits in Dispensary

Midwife kits are shelved with other supplies and medicines in the Wunlang Clinic dispensary.

Midwife Kit Training

Angong, our Program Coordinator and an experienced health worker, will provide training to the women of Wunlang to ensure the kits are used effectively. This is a picture of the the training session for the last shipment from St. Paul’s.

Solar solutions for South Sudan

Mou wires a solar generating station

Mou prepares the combiner box where wires from the solar panels will be connected to the two main wires entering the solar charging components inside Thiou School.

Mou Riiny, who came to the U.S. several years ago as a refugee from the long civil war in Sudan, is now back in South Sudan where he is starting his own solar energy company to deliver electricity to rural villages like Thiou, the one he fled as a child to escape the violence and destruction.

A recent graduate in Electrical Engineering from the University of San Diego, Mou has already installed solar power for a village school and is now starting other rural electrification projects.

In a program at our multipurpose community center in Rhumathoi, he will train solar entrepreneurs who will create small business enterprises that are sustainable in the rural economy. Solar electricity will replace polluting sources of lights currently used and power small electrical devices such as cell phones.

See more pictures of this solar installation here.

See a recent news article about Mou and his USD project here.

Midwife Kits have arrived in Juba!

Our friends at St. Paul Lutheran Church have supported Wunlang village in South Sudan for several years, starting with our Wunlang School project. Last year St. Paul’s coordinated fundraising and assembly for midwife kits for the Wunlang Health Center.

We are all happy to hear the news of the arrival of midwife kits (shipped several months ago) in Juba. Our Field Manager, Yel Maduok, is coordinating delivery of the kits to the women of Wunlang to help support safe deliveries and care for newborns.
Wunlang’s Traditional Birth Attendants have spoken passionately about the importance of the midwife kits and their appreciation for this gift.

A midwife kit includes a sheet, receiving blanket, towel, washcloth, soap, latex gloves, razor blade, and twine. The materials were laid out on tables for assembly. This year’s fundraiser generated 400 kits.

Each kit was sealed in a plastic bag, and the bags were boxed for shipping – by ocean and ground transportation – for their long journey to Wunlang.

When the shipment finally reaches Wunlang, our Program Coordinator, Angong Athian, will lead another workshop for the TBAs to learn about the midwife kits and their generous and compassionate friends at St. Paul’s.

Community center begins operations – basic literacy classes for women

News and pictures have just arrived about some exciting activity taking place at the multipurpose community center we are supporting for livelihood training and adult education.

Community members are clearing the land where the center’s demonstration gardens will be planted. The purpose of these gardens will be to grow crops as a food source for the training program’s participants and to sell surplus vegetables and grains in the market. The agriculture class will also learn about irrigation methods to support dry season gardening.

Thiou village project

Thiou village project

Our grant to the center has also enabled the community to hire a local teacher to lead basic literacy classes for adult women who have never had a chance to go to school. Functional literacy skills will supplement other training to enable partcipants to start and manage small enterprises, generating income to help sustain the center’s future operations and for modest personal earnings.

Thiou village project

Finishing touches are also preparing guest houses for visitors and staff who need overnight accommodations. The guest housing will be a comfortable place to stay and provide practical hospitality training for program participants. This small B&B will also generate income to support the center and pay the staff. Our visiting board members will be the first guests when we travel to the area in January.

Thiou village project

Thiou village project

Looking at these pictures brings us comfort and joy knowing our donors enable us to support community initiatives in this way – local citizens doing their own development work!

Solar mounting system

From welding to construction, here are some pictures of the mounting system for the solar installation at Thiou School. Click on each image to enlarge them.

Wunlang School Latrines Repaired

Latrines were installed at Wunlang School when it was first constructed. We learned recently, however, that the latrines were not being used by some students – namely the young girls – whose modesty kept them away. The latrines needed a privacy wall to enclose the entrance area.

When we heard of this barrier to use, we issued a grant to construct the privacy wall. Yel, our field manager in the village took it from there. The Wunlang School pit latrines have been repaired successfully, and he sent us these pictures.

The young man doing the work is Maluil Makuei Piol. Because of his experience helping with the construction process for the School and other work in the community, Maluil is now an independent mason and carpenter. He got his start working on our village construction projects. Yel says, “The school has a great positive impact to the community and Maluil is the first young boy mason in the history of Wunlang.”

Stories of success like this make us very proud, and we hope you will continue to support Village Help for South Sudan to enable villagers like Maluil undertake development projects and advance their own skills and future livelihoods.

VHSS volunteer Alix Charles attends the GHTC

Village Help for South Sudan is once again taking part in conversations on using cutting edge technology for the benefit of developing areas. The organization’s newest volunteer member, Alix Charles, based on the West coast, attended IEEE’s Global Humanitarian Technology Conference earlier this week in Seattle, WA. The conference brought together hundreds of individuals from over two dozen countries, and featured speakers from organizations such as the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) and UNESCO. Panel discussions topics included Water and Agriculture, Connectivity and Communication, Humanitarian Challenges & Opportunities, and Societal Impacts.

Through taking part in such panel discussions, Alix informed engineers, scientists, funders, industry and government representatives, and other attendees of Village Help for South Sudan’s work. Alix reported back with resources and contacts that could help us in current and future projects. “It was a great experience and a terrific opportunity to raise awareness of our projects and mission among the humanitarian community,” says Alix. “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. It was inspiring to be among such accomplished individuals, and rewarding to see such enthusiasm and interest in our work.”

Here’s a link to the conference blog with posts about the various topics and presentations. Thank you, Alix, for joining Village Help for South Sudan and attending this conference for us!

The Wiring of Thiou School

This just in from Mou Riiny in South Sudan:

“I just came back (to the town) from Thiou village, where I have been for the last few days. We were very busy wiring the school to get it ready for the installation. Wiring is now mostly complete, only a few things remain here and there that I’ll complete when I go back.

“I want to go ahead and start the installation process since we still haven’t set a date for my return back to the U.S. I have listed the materials we need to make the installation and will get the estimate from the market in the next day or two.

“I attached some pictures from the wiring process.”

Thanks to Mou and his supporters, Thiou School in this remote location in South Sudan will soon have electricity!