My Go Abroad project took me to Ghana where I was hoping to spread some of my knowledge gained through my thesis research. The main components of the research work I was sharing revolved around the reparability of small solar lanterns. These devices are quite unique in they are life-changing devices, bringing clean lighting to low-income households that would otherwise use kerosene; yet the devices themselves are often under-used due to a lack of repair knowledge. Education on solar technologies is understandably somewhat absent from typical curriculums so there are few repair shops available, particularly for these very cheap devices. In selecting the still working components from the often expired batteries etc., it’s possible to create new solar devices as most solar panels will still work even 25 years later.
Before leaving Edinburgh I was quite concerned about how the workshops would be received and how much impact I could make in only the comparatively short time available. There was also the big question about what local skills and spare parts would truly be available. Despite having checked beforehand with my contacts on what I should be able to find, things are always slightly different when you actually get there.
Some of these challenges were encountered as in some schools the nearest market that held the relevant spare parts was very far away and subsequently what we’d not brought with us we simply had no options for replacement and had to focus on other learning outcomes. Again I learnt the lesson that you can never be too prepared and also that not matter how good your planning, when in the field even more planning can always be a good idea! However, I still got some great experiences in running workshops, working with a diverse range of students and teachers that has taught me a great number of ways to create positive learning experiences through practical experiences. My thanks go out to the Principal’s Go Abroad fund for giving me this fantastic opportunity and helping to make an impact in the communities I was fortunate enough to visit.