UNSW SPREE Students' work in Vanuatu has new website

Dr Richard Corkish - UNSW SPREE<p>Students from UNSW SPREE are making a difference in the lives of people on Tanna Island, Vanuatu and for the first time this work is now visible world-wide by way of a new student developed website https://liudan034.wixsite.com/unswerv. “It all started in 2007/08 with eager second-year SPREE students visiting to install roof gutters, rainwater tanks and solar lighting at the school on the village of Louen, in the hills above the main town of Lenakel,” says Dr Richard Corkish. “This on-going project has groups of UNSW SPREE students going to Vanuatu usually twice a year.”

Now, thanks to SPREE student Dan Liu, UNSW Énergie Renouvelable Vanuatu (UNSWERV) has launched its website. UNSWERV connects UNSW SPREE and University of the South Pacific students to remote villages in Tanna Island, Vanuatu for humanitarian/educational projects. The UNSW students design and install remote area renewable energy power supplies in health aid posts and in schools. The local women get lighting for births and for their children’s illnesses and injuries while the students get an outstanding hands-on education and training experience and get pushed outside their comfort zones through exposure to very different lifestyles. Some even ponder the big questions, such as “Do we need more stuff to make us happy?”

Because services are so scarce in the Tanna villages, even the simple solar power systems that the students install can make an immense difference to the people. UNSWERV usually builds 12VDC systems, avoiding high-voltage and taking advantage of components mass-produced for the global auto market. They normally use good-quality second-hand solar panels and provide efficient LED lights and USB charging supplies for mobile phones, the most accessible form of emergency communication.

The project has attracted support from UNSW’s new Institute for Global Development for 2018 – 19 and has also been supported by The Darcy and Patricia Wentworth Foundation, 5B Australia, Alpha ESS Australia, St Marys Senior High School, Alternative Technology Association, Redlands School, and UNSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering.

Trips are twice per year, in the students’ winter and summer holidays, with the next in being in July 2018.

“This is a wonderful match of our enthusiastic students paired with the people of Tanna Island. It is personally rewarding for our students and assists the islanders with real solutions to real problems. Our students are quite proud of their accomplishments and this new website shows the world why they are so proud,” added Dr Corkish.

The new website is located at https://liudan034.wixsite.com/unswerv

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