As Toronto welcomes people from across the Americas for the 2015 PanAm/Para PanAm games my thoughts are with friends in rural Nicaragua. I can imagine a group of them gathered around a small television watching their team play their national sport - baseball, against Canada - the host nation. It was eighteen months ago that I was part of a small group of Canadians gathered around that same TV watching Canada play the US at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
In those eighteen months we have made good progress with our goal to help farmers in rural Nicaragua grow more food through improved irrigation of their land. We call this initiative "Winds of Change". With help from the University of Toronto Faculty of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering we now have a design and a prototype for a low cost windmill that can be built using local tools, from locally sourced materials, for a cost of less than $400 CDN.
Six weeks ago, seven of us traveled to Pedro Arauz with the objectives to
- Assess and prepare the readiness of local suppliers and the community for the first installation
- Build the concrete foundation for the prototype windmill
- Evaluate potential sites for future installations
- Provide continuity to build relationships with the communit - relationships are the foundation of future success
Travelling on this trip were John Shoust, Dr. Amy Bilton, Wayne Scott and me - as well as John's son Ethan and my kids Andrew and Sarah. Having our kids there made the trip very special for us and for our friends in Pedro Arauz.
Over the summer we will prepare for our return trip in October to install the prototype. We will also develop a communication and fund-raising strategy to allow us to expand the program once the prototype proves successful. We will be seeking both corporate and private support. Your ideas and suggestions are always welcome.
To read more about the trip, and to see some of Andrew's photography click here http://www.windsofchangecanada.com/blog/
If you happen to be at the Canada/Nicaragua baseball game on July 13th, say "hi". I'll be the Canadian guy in the blue Nicaraguan jersey cheering for both teams.