It's been a while since I finished in Trujillo and having had the time to reflect on the experience, I wanted to do a final post to very briefly share my thoughts on the project and maybe provide a little extra push for anyone who has stumbled across this blog and is considering getting involved with WindAid or something similar.
I would like to think that the previous posts would give the reader an accurate idea of what the program was like as a volunteer. It was obviously impractical to try and record every technical detail or every conversation that went on, but the general progression of the build should be consistent with that of any other group, and, in many ways that is probably the only thing would be the same.
The work that WindAid is doing in Peru, although united by the common threads of sustainability and renewable energy, is very different both day-to-day and project-to-project. As well as the community and rural electrification projects they have designed and installed commercial systems created to order, they are involved with outreach into schools and universities and are in a constant state of R&D. This interesting mix of objectives is complemented by the diverse backgrounds of their long and short term volunteers, whether they be students/graduates of science or engineering (or neither), people with established careers in the fields of sustainability and green energy, people looking to build a career in those areas, or simply people with an interest in helping communities find a clean renewable source of energy.
Speaking from my own personal experience, I came to WindAid after 5 brilliant months of travelling in South America with the intention of putting something back into the continent, and found the 5 weeks to be some of the most richest and rewarding of my entire trip. However, the others in the group found their way to Trujillo in many different ways: we had one guy taking some time out between University and Graduate School; one guy taking a month out from work; and another using the program as a stopover on his way to Australia from a university exchange in America, so there really is no typical volunteer, and no good reason not to take the plunge and apply if you are interested!
What I will say by way of closing remarks is that I can’t recommend the WindAid Volunteer Program enough. Anyone who makes the journey to Trujillo will not come away disappointed and will definitely come away better for the experience, whether through technical knowledge gained about wind power, mixing with a diverse bunch of volunteers, WindAid staff and Michael’s family, or from seeing the project through from build to installation – and maybe even some Spanish language skills thrown in there! I certainly feel that I benefited, it gave me a new perspective on a long held view that development, higher standards of living and renewable energy shouldn’t be mutually exclusive and encouraged me to educate myself and get more involved in these areas. I hope that the brief blog posts I have written here shines the positive light on WindAid I had intended and hopefully prompts anyone who might be interested in getting involved to learn more and ultimately contribute to the excellent work going on in Peru and indeed all over the world.
For anyone who is interested in knowing more about WindAid and the program they should visit the website and if in doubt give them an email – one of the benefits of having a 7-day-week workaholic at the helm is that all emails tend to get a reply...