Sunday, April 19, 2009

Solar Panels to Burma via Renewable Spirit - Short update

I love twitter, and I miss it. There's a lot of people who think I'm in Bangladesh or Myanmar or somewhere else because I've been quiet online. I got your messages, and thank you for looking out for me. I appreciate your attention. The reason why I've been off grid is that I've been pretty busy with training on solar panels and getting that off the ground so haven't been online much. I also don't have Internet at home. Somehow the ISP didn't work with my new Ubuntu netbook, oh well, I'm dropping their service.

Plus I've decided to move to Gurgaon after all. It's a quiet technopolis near New Delhi. There's nothing but malls there but I think I'll like it. I'll still have Kolkata as a base though, because the main operations is here, that I'm totally convinced of. I've just finished drafting out the Memorandum of Association -- which is what you need in India to form an NGO. This is going to be the sister organization to the project on the ground in Burma. A normal person would've had a lawyer do it, but this is my baby, so I'm doing it myself with the help of my advocate friend, Eliza. (She kicks bad guy ass!) The organization in India is going to support in terms of the grassroots fund raising that we do like getting funds out of Amazon, Cafe Press, PayPal etc. Those facilities are not available inside Myanmar. They will directly pay for the solar panels, and some of the equipment that needs to be sourced from West Bengal, plus the transportation from factory to the port of Yangon. I'm researching on EC (European Commission) funding and other funding sources but I want to get an umbrella NGO to sponsor the project before I start writing proposals. These funds will be used inside Burma.

We also have a name: Renewable Spirit, plus a logo, and a domain. :-) That couldn't happen without Jeanne and IDG backing my behind.

My solar panel training was awesome. Half of the lectures were in Bengali but I seemed to have acquired some sort of heightened understanding for the language. I still claim I don't know Bengali. It takes a lot of brain power to decipher it, especially when folks are talking in pure science lingo. The whole training deserve a couple of posts so stay tuned!

Overall, the pieces of the puzzle are falling in place. A month ago, I didn't know anything except the fact that I want to get solar panels to Myanmar and that it is possible. All I had was my support network of friends who had connections and some willing to contribute to the project anyway they can. Resources, specifically for renewable energy is something that the Burmese people, especially the victims of Cyclone Nargis need. Now, I know where to get solar panels, how to install them, what equipment I need, and what the renewable energy industry is like in India. I even know that it won't end with getting solar panels to Burma, it's just the beginning. Getting people educated and aware of the rewards of renewable energy is going to be really fun.

I'm really psyched about all this. I can't wait to get to Burma and survey the villages there!