Unexpected opportunities

This is a special guest blog post from Eddy Matute of El Guaylo, Nicaragua. Here, he reflects on how his life has changed since solar was installed on the school is his community.

I’m 20 years old and I was born and raised here in El Guaylo. I’m the oldest of three children in my family. When I was studying there were still no high school classes offered in the community, so I traveled the one hour bus ride or three hour walk to Limay on the weekends to study. Now there are professors that come to El Guaylo to give classes two days a week so students don’t have to travel to get their high school education. I’ve always helped on the family farm where we grow corn, beans and millet. Yet, with the recent drought we haven’t been able to get a good crop so some of my friends and I have traveled to Costa Rica to find work. We usually go for four months during coffee-cutting season. Even though it’s long hours we can make good money.

A little over a year ago GRID came to install solar panels at the school. Electricity has brought a lot of joy to our community. We can now enjoy celebrations like Independence Day or Mother’s Day with music and folkloric dances. For me it’s much more convenient to be able to charge my cell phone. Plus, now that we have light at the school, it’s become a popular meeting place. It’s one of the only places with a cell phone signal as well so my friends and I will get together on the front steps at night to text, listen to music or just hang out.

Four months ago I decided to buy an electric razor to cut hair. Mainly I bought it for myself since it was annoying having to wait until my hair was long to go get my hair cut in Limay. But soon after some practice people began to ask me to cut their hair at the school. So I started to charge 20 cordobas for each haircut. Now I usually have 1-2 clients a week. I use the money to make a trip into the city or to buy household supplies. My dream is to go back to school to get my degree in engineering.