Our First "Litro de Luz" Workshop

Authored By:

Sabine Williams

It’s the beginning of our third day (Wednesday) of the Eco-Solutions program, and the members of our small group are starting to grow closer and more comfortable with each other.   We meet at the Centro Cultural Dominicano Americano (The Dominican-American Cultural Center) bright and early, pile into the bus, and head out to Villa Gonzalez, a small community outside of Santiago near the Pico Diego de Ocampo mountain, where Litro de Luz (Liter of Light) - the eco-power NGO that we will be collaborating with during our program – houses its facilities. 

Today is our first Litro de Luz recycling and solar lighting workshop.  Founded by Illac Diaz, young Filipino man, in the aftermath of the devastating tsunami that hit the Philippines in 2013, Litro de Luz works in a number of countries to teach community members how to build solar-powered lights using easily-accessible materials, including a recycled 1-2 liter plastic bottle (hence the name).  Such projects are particularly important for communities that either do not have electricity, have inconsistent electricity, or cannot afford to pay for the electricity provided by the government.

The Litro de Luz República Dominicana team is small and strong.  Hipólito, Jenny, and Brahian are the Dominican staff with whom we will be working, while Urs and Leannart are two German volunteers who will be helping to teach us how to make the Litro de Luz lamps.  Housed in the Centro de Desarrollo de Villa Gonzalez (Villa Gonzalez Community Development Center), the workshop is primarily taught in Spanish, so it’s a good thing that this is a very hands-on and visual experience (it’s good for improving our Spanish skills too). 

First, we go out into the community to find the plastic bottles we will be using for our Litro de Luz.  When we’ve collected and cleaned our empty bottles – many of which were found in the street or in people’s backyards – we return to the center to begin assembling our lamps. To make the base, we attach PVC tubes and insulated copper wires using metal filaments, a sawdering iron, and a hot glue gun.  For the following piece of the lamp, we cut a circle into pieces of zinc (the material used for many rooves in rural Dominican communities) where we place our recycled plastic bottles and cement them into place using liquid silicone.  Finally, we use mini LED bulbs, insulated copper wires, a tube, and a plastic bottle cap to make the “luz” (light) part of the Litro de Luz.  Our lamps aren’t done yet, and we’ll be continuing the workshop over the course of the week, but it’s a pretty good start!