Power Up Gambia has been fundraising since October 2006 for a solar system for Sulayman Junkung General Hospital in Bwiam. Kathryn Cunningham, a 22 year old undergraduate student, founded Power Up Gambia after participated in Cross Road Program in that hospital during the summer of 2006. This organization (Power up Gambia) has over this short period grown rapidly and was able to raise $260,000 towards their $300,000 goal of bringing solar power to Sulayman Junkung General Hospital.
Power Up Gambia has now finalized Phase I of the project which was the reduction of the overall energy /power consumption of the hospital by replacing current bulbs with energy saving bulbs, improving on the current electrical wiring system and providing a solar powered water pump to supply 24/7 water. Kathryn Cunningham returned to the hospital in January 2008 to oversee the installation by GAM-Solar Energy & Engineering Co. Ltd and to further touch base with Mr. Badgie (CEO) of the hospital about the laid down plans to fund-raise for the final phase.
Power up Gambia held two successful events in April (19th and 20th) 2008 and have several more events lined up in the near future. The fund-raising event on April 19th was attended by H.E. Tamsir Jallow, Gambia's Ambassador to Washington, Dr. George Haley and Mrs. George Haley, Former US Ambassador to The Gambia and Mr. Kebba S. Badgie, CEO of the hospital along with several American dignitaries, Senators, Governors and Congressmen. A family festival was held on April 20th to celebrate The Gambia and renewable energies. More that 1,500 people attended. Throughout the school year, more than 25 local schools have been involved in Power up Gambia for Kids, an educational program designed to teach local American youth about The Gambia and get them involved in the project.
Power up Gambia has paved the way for other initiatives at Sulayman Junkung General Hospital. Dr. Lonnie Angstadt, a physician assistant, accompanied Kathryn Cunningham under the request of Mr. Badgie to the Gambia in January this year with an Emergency Medical Team on a fact finding mission. Upon their return, Dr. Angstadt and her team founded Del-Med Aid for Gambia to provide volunteer medical professionals to Sulayman Junkung General Hospital. Mr. Badgie held successful meetings with the Chief Executive Christiana Care, the 10th largest hospital in the United States. The said Medical Team is also working to secure the much needed medical equipment for the hospital. The list would include an X-ray machine, other diagnostic and therapeutic equipment as well as life supporting ones and an ambulance.
Mr. Badgie is very enthusiastic about this progress and is looking forward to working with these organizations. With fund-raising moving steadily ahead in the United States, the solar panels should be installed at the hospital and inaugurated on 15th of August 2008. The system should provide power to most of the hospital's vital equipment.
Mr. Badgie returned to The Gambia on May 15th, 2008.
On Monday June 16th, the Board of Power up Gambia signed an agreement with GamSolar for the installation of solar panels at Sulayman Junkung General Hospital. Initially, seventy - five (75) panels will be installed on five solar trackers of fifteen (15) panels per tracker. It is envisaged that the 75 panels on automatic tracking system would generate ten (10) kilowatt of power which is capable to power at least 80% of the hospital energy. Work for the installation of the panels will commence soonest and the completion date is 15th August 2008.
With the provision of this system of solar power, 80% of the hospital would be provided with power 24/7 and 365 days. The kind of battery cells earmarked for this project have a lifespan of at least fifteen (15) years whilst the panels themselves have a lifespan of at least twenty (20) years.
The first phase has seen the successful installation of a solar water system and the re-wiring of electrical system in the hospital. The Hospital Management Board (SJGH) continues to work very hard to galvanize more assistance from many fronts to strengthen the gains made so far and to initiate and facilitate new initiatives for the hospital.