A partnership between the Fayetteville Rotary Club and a Methodist University graduate, has provided 130 Rwandan homes with solar panels to power their homes.
Fred Kayitare, a native of Rwanda and recent Methodist graduate, founded Village Roots Foundation to better lives of the people of his home country. Rwanda, located in east Africa, is one of the smallest and most densely populated countries on the continent.
In 2021, the Village Roots Foundation provided water to over 4,000 people in three Rwandan villages, with the assistance of St. Andrew’s Methodist Church of Fayetteville. In 2022, Kayitare, who was also a member of the Methodist Rotaract Club, reached out to the Fayetteville Rotary club to continue improving lives in Rwanda by coordinating a solar panel project to light up his village.
Kayitare developed the project after learning that the Rwanda Development Bank was providing funding for solar panels for just 15 dollars (15000 Rwandan francs). The bank project was a part of a $150 million project to improve access to modern energy for households, businesses, and public institutions in Rwanda and to enhance the efficiency of electricity services.
"The World Bank initiative is a great opportunity and I would love for my village to benefit from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Kayitare. "My village has no electricity and most people live below the poverty line. To so many people, this project would be life-changing."
From his knowledge of the Fayetteville Rotary Club service grants, Kayitare proposed the project to light up 130 homes with off grid access, help provide light for children to study and for other household uses and provide ability of cooking using electricity instead of coal or gas.
"Since homes do not have electricity and schools are located hours away from the village, children do not have many hours of daylight to study after coming home from school," said Kayitare. "They depend on gas lights that are health hazards because of the fumes they expose the children to, creating health issues."
The Rotary Club provided $2,000 for the project that included a $1,000 grant from Rotary International District 7730. With the funding secure, Kayitare partnered with a Local Rwandan Rotaract Club and their sponsoring Rotary Club of Kigali (Rwanda’s Capital City), to select the 130 families to receive solar panels based on their financial need and having school age children in the home.
Installation was completed in January 2023. Along with the solar panels, each family received a solar-powered radio and flashlight.
“It is rewarding to partner with a Methodist Rotaract member to make such a powerful impact with a Rotary District grant,” said Brandon Price, President of the Fayetteville Rotary. "We are so fortunate in the United States that we don’t have to worry about access to basic necessities. This project is changing lives and achieving Rotary International’s vision of uniting and taking action to create lasting change across the globe.”
The solar panel project was one of four Rotary District Grant projects that received $7,400 of funding in 2022-2023. The Fayetteville Club also funded projects for Rick’s Place, Better Health of Cumberland County and provided support of a French Rotary Exchange student, currently hosted in Fayetteville.