In 2013, NRECA International began establishing the first electric co-op in communities in southwestern Haiti with funding and support from the United Nations Environmental Programme, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Inter-American Development Bank and the NRECA International Foundation.
But on the ground, the buck stops with Dana Brosig, NRECA International’s project manager.
Dana plays a key role in helping establish the Cooperative Electrique de l’Arrondisement des Côteaux (CEAC), which will ultimately provide many people of Côteaux, Port-à-Piment and Roche-à-Bateau the opportunity to turn on the lights for the first time. Upon completion, CEAC’s solar-diesel hybrid power distribution system will provide 24/7 safe, affordable and reliable power to 1,600 consumers. and next will be improved healthcare, education, safer communities and economic growth.
“Nobody wants to live in the dark. When you have lights, when you have entertainment, when you have refrigeration – it’s a different life,” said Dana. “I don’t think the people here can imagine what this town could and will transform into.”
In addition to managing the 28 U.S-based co-op volunteers that have traveled to Coteaux to help build and upgrade power lines, Dana also oversees the co-op’s administration, management and operation. Most recently, she successfully facilitated the co-op’s second general assembly and board member elections.
Dana doesn’t just serve this co-op’s community – she’s become a part of it. She lives within the very community that will benefit from the electricity she’s working hard to bring. On Saturdays you will find her walking to the market, and people know her by name. Dana’s door is also always open – literally. During the week, the next door kids love to play in her front yard and on many Friday or Saturday nights she hosts outdoor movie nights for her neighbors.
“These kids are the future of Haiti. I want them to see many different things of the world and have a bigger imagination than what they’re currently exposed to. And to see them, sitting there and watching and entertained is a real joy to me.”
Already, the community is seeing tangible, uphill progress. The solar panel installation was completed in July, and nearby street lights were illuminated for the first time. Next up? Fuel tanks and generators will soon be installed nearby on the same land where all the power will be generated for CEAC members.
“Power is what starts communities changing. Power changed rural America. Without power, this town can’t grow. The kids will grow, but only to a point, because they can’t be exposed to things. And it’s not because the kids don’t want to know, it’s because they don’t have the opportunity to know. So, when I think of that, yeah, it really does start with power.”