By Alexander (Coke) Smith, Environmental Systems and Societies Leader, Bangkok Patana School
Students from Bangkok Patana School’s Roots & Shoots club have been raising funds and installing solar panels in a remote mountain village in Chiang Mai’s Wiang Haeng District. This remote district borders Myanmar in the north of Chiang Mai province and is home to many underserved communities. Baan Pang Wua is a small community of around 70 people of the Lisu ethnic minority; the village is completely off-grid as it is too far from the government power grid to obtain any electricity at all.
Bangkok Patana Roots & Shoots is a subgroup of the Student Environmental Committee (SEC) and is part of the worldwide Roots & Shoots programme established by Dr Jane Goodall to promote conservation and environmental awareness in the minds of young people around the world.
Bangkok Patana students raised funds to purchase solar panels for the residents of Baan Pang Wua and then travelled to that village to install individual solar arrays for villagers. Together with a generous donation from sponsor Energreen Solar, the students managed to secure funding for twenty solar kits which were installed in 20 homes. The students learned how to install the kits before the visit; each solar kit provides electricity for three LED lights for six hours a day. One villager said to the visitors, “This was the best thing that ever happened to our village.”
Bangkok Patana students and staff plan a return visit to the village in December 2019 to see how the villagers are adapting to life with their solar panels and to hear their stories about the differences it has made for them. They plan to electrify every house in the village as well as provide their local school with teaching resources through fundraising at school events and outside sources. Interested in learning more about this project? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Alexander (Coke) Smith is the Environmental Science Leader at Bangkok Patana School and has been at the school for four years. He’s taught Environmental Science for 32 years at many tier one schools in Asia and in the USA. His passion is biological conservation and documentation through his wildlife photography. His work has been in many well-known publications such as BBC Planet Earth, (Nat Geo) Science and many others.