A pile of utility poles lay on the ground one block from Florinda Salinas’ house in rural Santo Domingo, Honduras. They have been there for months, maybe even years. Florinda explains that the poles are intended for an electrical expansion project that will connect her town to the nearest energy grid. She then laughs and says, “I will believe it when I actually see light bulbs glowing in town.” Electricity will not be coming to Santo Domingo any time soon.
Roughly 1.4 million people, or 40 percent, of Hondurans living in rural areas deal with the consequences of energy poverty. This means not having enough light to work or study at night, spending limited and often unstable income on expensive and unhealthy sources of energy such as kerosene, and difficulty charging electronics like cell phones to conduct business or keep in touch with loved ones. Florinda was bound by these limitations until she received a loan to buy a solar home system through Global Partnerships’ (GP) partner, COMIXMUL, a cooperative that provides women with savings and credit products and access to health services/education and green technologies.
With the solar home system, Florinda and her husband Oscar save money on kerosene costs and can continue weaving hammocks into the night; the Salinas’ hammock business is their main source of income, so maximizing work hours is critical. They can also charge their cell phone, which they use to communicate with their wholesale hammock buyer and keep in touch with their eldest son, who is studying on scholarship in Tegucigalpa, a city over 100 miles away.
Additionally, their younger sons, Edras (8), Edson (10), Lester (15) and Eric (17) can now study under bright solar powered lights. Florinda, who only attended school until the sixth grade, is certain that education is the key to her sons’ success. “I want my kids to become professionals. I don’t want them making hammocks. I want a better life for them,” and having the solar home system helps light the way forward.