by Allison Archambault
“Atansyon! Atansyon!” megaphone-equipped town criers hollered throughout neighboring towns. Clean energy was coming to Les Anglais, they announced.
The Clean Energy Store (Magazen Enèji Pwòp) of Les Anglais held its grand opening this week with a full day of events and community outreach in this small town near the tip of Haiti’s southern peninsula.
After a morning of local DJ’s, product demonstrations, raffles, and special guests at the marketplace, Sinema Anba Zetwal, the acclaimed “Cinema Under the Stars” troupe from Port-au-Prince, lit up a giant screen in the town square for a full evening program that highlighted the environment, Haitian culture, and the benefits of solar electricity products and efficient cook stoves.
In this town which has no electricity grid and almost exclusively inefficient stoves (when people have stoves at all), people carried wooden chairs into the square, set up seats on rooftops, and lined the fences to watch. The program featured short films, cartoons, a vox pop short film of Les Anglaisians’ thoughts on clean energy, live testimonials from fellow-townspeople who had tested the products, as well as explanations from manufacturers and a guest speaker from Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest micro-finance institution. The evening concluded with the full length environmental docu-film “Home” by Yann Arthus-Betrand in Haitian Creole.
Universally, the people of Les Anglais were impressed by the giant screen and professionalism of the event. “Les Anglais has never seen an installation this noble” one of the attendees commented. Another threw her hands in the air stretched far apart to convey how ‘ampil ampil extraordinaire‘ the night had been.
The following morning, a small crowd massed outside of the store before its doors opened at 9 am. Some had come to claim the stoves and solar products they had won in the raffle, and others came to look at the goods. The first paying client that day was a woman from the 9 am crowd who wanted to get a ‘miracle stove’ before her day of cooking at the market. She had heard that she could save 10 gourdes (approx US$0.25) in charcoal costs each day with the efficient stove, and she was anxious to start her savings when she fueled her business that day.
Very special thanks and congratulations to COREA, CRAN, AVODCA, D+E Enterprises, The Green Family Foundation, Fast Forward Haiti, Sinema Anba Zetwal, and to all of the citizens of Les Anglais for making this opening a success!