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AUB students light the way with feasible solutions to challenging problems
10/6/2017
Safa Jafari Safa  |  Office of Communications  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 
After proving their success in providing solar lighting to a remote village in North Lebanon, the Students for Sustainable Energy for All (SSEA) at AUB doubled their efforts to install this year solar light to another village: El Manara in the Bekaa region. A celebration ceremony took place at the completion of preparation and official collaboration for the launch of Light Up a Village (LUV) 2.0.

In 2015, members of the SSEA club, the AUB chapter of the UN Global Energy Initiative, started the LUV project: a student-based undertaking to enhance villages’ wellbeing and raise awareness about the importance of renewable energy and its impact on the future of Lebanon. The students manage the fundraising, collaboration, and installment of renewable energy solutions in impoverished villages around Lebanon that are suffering from an increasing number of refugees and not receiving enough governmental or international support.

“The success of LUV 2.0 is a success to you, to us, and most importantly to Lebanon,” said Yazan Fanous, who founded the SSEA club when he was a Mechanical Engineering student at AUB, to SSEA partners in a video recording at the ceremony. “This is what real democracy is; setting our differences aside, working together from different angles, including a maximum number of contributors, creating many opportunities for students, aiming for one big goal: sustainable energy for all.”

Within a year of the launch of the initiative, the students succeeded, in partnership with the UNDP, to implement the first iteration of the project: providing their pilot village, Majdel in Akkar, with a total of 16 decentralized solar light poles planted on the main roads and around the main square of the village. In addition, 10 solar kits were distributed and installed inside the homes of the less fortunate that were still using candle light at night.

“I want to congratulate SSEA for their remarkable work,” said Dr. Nabil Fahed representing the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon. “I applaud your foresight and I think that what you have achieved in these two projects could not have been achieved by many bigger organizations and better funded NGOs. You have done a tremendous job with very limited resources.”

The SSEA students started approaching more media stakeholders, NGOs, governmental entities, and private companies, who have become more aware of the success and benefits of the students’ initiative. The result: a ripple effect of effort matched with growing ambitions for more light to Lebanon’s deprived areas.

For their second project, SSEA has sealed the deal for the installment of 12 solar street light poles that are to be installed on the roads leading to the main square and a school of El Manara village. Aimed to be installed before winter, the poles will be charging up during the day and lighting the streets at night.

“We believe in being, leading, and making the change that Lebanon needs to become more and more sustainable,” said Rayan Hanna, project manager of LUV 2.0 who graduated from AUB with a degree in Electrical Engineering in May. “When we see something wrong in our society, our intuition is to do something about it… LUV 2.0 turned out to be more than a simple street lighting project, we all got together and proved that small collective efforts achieve a huge impact.”

The SSEA students realize that the light poles have a certain lifetime and so initiated community-building and awareness raising on sustainable renewable energy use. “With this ripple effect, we aim on changing the conventional perception of sustainability that is present in Lebanon one person at a time: that’s how we can contribute on actually making Lebanon b​righter,” Public Administration masters student and member of SSEA Farah Abou Harb told us.

“This remarkable group is providing a very valuable example of role modelling for the rest of society at a time when there are a lot of negative narratives and negative role models out there,” said AUB President Fadlo Khuri who described the LUV project as a genuinely important, co-curricular event. “By continuing to work together to conserve the environment, use energy sources effectively, think outside the box, and create sustainable solutions for some of the most underprivileged communities in Lebanon, you are inspiring us and the generations to come that there are feasible solutions to challenging problems.”

Story Highlights
  • ​​​After proving their success in providing solar lighting to a remote village in North Lebanon, the Students for Sustainable Energy for All (SSEA) at AUB doubled their efforts to install this year solar light to another village: El Manara in the Bekaa region. A celebration ceremony took place at the completion of preparation and official collaboration for the launch of Light Up a Village (LUV) 2.0.​
 
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