In July 2015, GRID Alternatives installed an off-grid photovoltaic system on a primary school in the community of Totumblita.
The community of Totumblita, consisting of 19 homes and 180 inhabitants, is tucked behind a forgotten corner of the town of Ciudad Dario, Matagalpa. The government authorities refuse to repair the road leading to the community, making the community virtually inaccessible during the rainy season.
Totumblita is very poor compared to surrounding communities. The majority of its residents live off the land, growing beans, corn and wheat in this very arid part of the region. Some residents commute to the town of Dario and work as a door-to-door salespeople selling housewares, small gadgets and cleaning supplies. Neither occupation provides much income for the average family.
Every house in Totumblita has at least one cell phone, but since there is no electricity, residents walk an hour to the nearest house with electricity to charge their phones. There is a local well for potable water but community members say there is not enough water in the well, and there are disputes over water rights. The women of the community walk everyday down a steep hill every day to fetch water for their homes.
The photovoltaic system GRID volunteers installed provides lights for the school and AC power, allowing the school to serve as a central charging place for cell phones and other appliances that improve the quality of life in the community.