Report of the visit to the community of Yorkín, Talamanca
The visit made from April 10 to 12, 2018, report by Alfredo Marín.
We had the participation of:
• Oregon: Ned and Lulu Heavenrich.
• Liberia: Ana Vilma Álvarez and Fanny Fennel
• Pérez Zeledón: Heráclides Vindas (Quiro)
• San José: Alfredo Marín
• Guápiles: Yamileth Jiménez, Zaira Barrantes, Xinia Ortega and Elizabeth Sánchez.
Departure at 5 am from the national theater, arrival at 12:45 hrs. The arrival has a level of difficulty from easy to moderate, there is only a 10-minute walk at a slow pace after the 1-hour boat trip.
The project of accommodation and sale of handicrafts organized by women is quite organized and with good communication to the outside world, they have a website (stibrawpayorkin.wordpress.com), a contact e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and a telephone (+506 8706 6784) despite the distance and that apparently the fastest way to get there is by river there is a cell phone signal from Kolbi. So, their communication channels are always active.
In the lodging house that we spent the 2 nights it has capacity for 24 people, 4 complete bathrooms and running water. We slept in bunk beds and luckily there were enough for us all to sleep in the lower part of each bed, with mosquito netting, clean bedding and very comfortable foam mattresses. The meals that were served are typical of their usual diet, rice, green plantain, beans, tuber purees and minced vegetables typical of the area.
With respect to the solar panels, a panel of about 150 watts was observed outside the rooms, there were no visible labels about it´s capacity, an inverter of 1500 watt with an input voltage of 24 volts and a pair of batteries agm (lead acid) in series to feed the 24v. And an electrical installation for lighting, all in poor condition. The set of batteries, charge controller and inverter are placed in a wooden box and damage was observed in the inverter by the entrance of insects, which in our country love to sneak into the electronic items to nest and place their eggs, the high humidity of the zone also oxidized the metallic surfaces of the transistors and other metallic components susceptible to corrosion. The door was forced, and the equipment disconnected and torn apart.
We are informed that about 60 children attend the school, it is an estimate because there was no official to talk to. To observe the installed equipment, only a visual inspection could be made from outside the classroom where the control center is, they did not want to get a key to enter and observe in detail, the panels were functioning correctly, the load control and the charge of the batteries; the lighting, although scarce, works. This equipment is of greater capacity, better quality, sealing and durability appropriate for the climate and geographical location. The biggest problem in these 2 classrooms is the connection to the batteries that is unprotected and disorganized, besides the peripheral electrical installation to this system, sockets, switches, ceiling lights and others are poorly installed and rather represent a danger for students and a source of fear and worry.
You can see the wiring, although it is well connected, it does not look like it at first sight and this generates fear and concern for the students.
Blue labeled batteries are disconnected and old.
A semi-professional installation is observed with rails bolted to the wall, in front you can see the inverter, better protected than the other ones against insects, but dirty with bat droppings and other animal droppings. The load control box (silver) is completely sealed as is the distribution box (gray). Wiring in general is not properly secured or properly cased to comply with current electrical installation codes.
The clinic has a smaller equipment than the school, is working properly feeding a freezer of about 11 cubic feet. The peripheral electrical installation works well, lights and outlets. Only the bulbs are scarce. I observe that there is a charger- inverter unit and a solar charger controller that could be redundant, but I do not have the technical characteristics of the equipment and the installation to be completely sure about it.
We are informed that about 35 students attend it. In this place there are only some old solar panels in poor condition and an old wifi installation, there is no power although they have about 35 laptops given by the Omar Dengo Foundation in the past, they have nowhere to recharge them and put them to work. The teacher who answered us tells us about the need for refrigeration to store food that needs it, at the high school and at the elementary school, to improve the diet of the students.
We brought 2 brooms and 24 sponges for then to washing the solar panels, bought by the subcommittee of San José, the panels that could be observed are quite clean and do not suffer from over-accumulation of leaves that produce shade and a noticeable low in the efficiency. This conclusion is based on the direct observation of the equipment, this could not be accessed to make basic measurements such as working voltages.
The community is somewhat polarized with the projects of lodging and electrification, in some of the conversations with different people they tell us that they want to preserve their culture and way of life as much as possible, they see the example of the community of Bribrí and do not aspire to have ways access by land, neither electrification nor the destruction of their farmland. The project of Hosting and Sale of Handicrafts initiated by some women of the community brings them a more secure and stable income than the cultivation of cocoa to which men dedicate their effort. They tell us that there is still no agreement among the members of the community, some only want to work with agriculture as a source of income, while others want to take advantage of the visit to the area to share their culture and history with the outside world.
Regarding the solar equipment, they tell us that there are some other working in the offices of the lodging project, but they did not want to show them to us, I suppose they must be much better care than the others because it is the source of energy to be communicated, some residents leave during the night their cell phones charging in this places. The equipment in the school, school and lodging suffer from greater wear and tear due to the lack of minimum maintenance such as cleaning dust and insect excrement or other sources of dirt.
With the current configuration, only the Ebais equipment is giving a direct service to the community, every 15 days that the doctors arrive to attend the needs of the community. The school does not even have connections to charge students’ cell phones. Since many of the residents have smartphones, with Internet access, the people I could talk to use it mostly to access Facebook.
The community faces a series of decision-making regarding its short, medium and long-term goals, regarding very important issues to preserve its way of life, continue with this project of visits and lodging and have an education and services of health much better than they have now.
To improve and be able to use the electrical installations contact an electrician in the area, in Bribri there must be some who provide the service to reduce labor costs.
Regarding the materials, due to the severe conditions in the place, high quality accessories should be used, for example, of hospital grade. Because of the limited available power of the equipment, charging stations could be made for the cell phones of the students, thus providing a greater service to the community and they would begin to see the school as an advantage for them and not as a threat to their culture. At this point I do not know if the government study programs they have are suitable to work for the preservation of their customs.
Apart from repairing the electrical installations they should be given basic training on electricity and how to use the equipment, so that they can turn it off to clean them, know how many and what kind of equipment they can connect. A written and visual guide of these procedures, etc. Plan that the works when they are going to be done are inspected by someone with basic knowledge of residential electricity from our group of Partners.