Madison Wood : Scotland – Mechanical Engineering at University of Strathclyde

“My name is Maddie and I participated in the WindAid short-term volunteer project in June/July 2017. My experience at WindAid was amazing and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. WindAid allows you to see engineering in action, something I am very interested in, and gives you invaluable hands on experience.

Working in the workshop shows you the process of how a turbine is made and the interesting, sometimes very inventive, methods WindAid uses. I learnt so many important skills which I could potentially use in future life such as working with hand-tools, making electrical circuits and how to make an object strong yet light (essential when creating wind turbine blades) I also learnt potentially less useful skills for my career such as welding but it’s such a cool thing to know how to do! The men who work in the workshop are incredibly helpful and nice, every day in the workshop is so much fun.

The purpose of WindAid is to build and install a wind turbine in order to benefit a small community. My installation was in Vilcas, a rural village in the mountains of Peru. We built a large turbine of 2.5kW and were able to electrify two classrooms in the local school. I will never forget how excited and thankful both the children and the adults of the village were. They did all that they could to help us and were extremely kind. To us, electricity is so common but to them it was a huge change in their lives. It was very fulfilling to see something I helped built have such a positive effect on people.

Additionally, WindAid gives lots of opportunity for travel, with flexible Fridays available so that you can make the most of your weekend and see Peru. I traveled a lot around the country including Huaraz, Chicama and Cajamarca – all of these places were incredibly beautiful and interesting. After WindAid, I did a bit of traveling around Peru including climbing Machu Picchu which is definitely worth doing if you have the time! The volunteer co-coordinators at WindAid are so helpful and can give full details about where is best to visit. Peruvian people are also so nice and friendly, which makes this whole experience even better. Overall, WindAid is a great organisation and provided me the opportunity to better my lives and the lives of others. I would recommend taking part in a volunteer program at WindAid for an experience you won’t forget. ”

Olivia Hudson : Australia – Civil Engineering at RMIT University 

“The program greatly exceeded my expectations, as I learned so much not only to do with engineering but personally as well. I’ve been inspired to now be vegetarian and also grown in confidence from this program.

My amazing experience has to be attributed to all the employees and volunteers at WindAid from mama Rosa, who always made sure we had a delicious meal to come home to at the end of the day, to Senor Abel making sure we always got to and from work as well as to all the guys in the workshop sharing all their knowledge and experience with the upmost patience and open mindness to new things.

I greatly respect their attitude and dreams for innovation in the future. ”

Amelia Bassett-Burr : New Zealand – Mechanical Engineering Honours at Auckland University of Technology

“Volunteering with WindAid is a must do for everyone no matter what you are interested in or what age. I learnt so much that I could never have experienced anywhere else. WindAid combines sustainable wind energy, volunteering, helping those less fortunate, practical workshop skills, travel and heaps and heaps of fun! The people at WindAid and the communities are fantastic and easy to communicate with, even with the language barrier.”

Curt Swanton : USA – New York, Mechanical Engineering Technologies Alfred State College

“Had I not volunteered at WindAid, I would have never known just how many people you can fit in a single taxi; or just how many incredible people, from all over the world, you can meet in one place. By volunteering with WindAid, you will learn about the practical skills and processes involved in building a wind turbine. But that’s not all, you’ll also see firsthand what it takes, and has taken, to build an amazing community of people dedicated to such a great cause. Oh, and yes, you will have so much fun. Whether you’re doing repairs in the mountains, installations on the beach, or watching as about twenty or so local college kids put your whole group to shame at digging foundations, every day will be a new adventure. Trust me, when it’s over you’ll never want to leave.”

Earth Day & Fishing in Playa Blanca

Posted on May 13, 2015 by Lewis White

This month I was lucky enough to travel to Playa Blanca for the third time to take part in the installation of WindAid’s tenth turbine. This coincided with the 45th “Earth Day”, which is marked all over the world by acts of “green” aiming to promote respect for the planet. It was my first celebration of the event and it was a great feeling to take part!

I’d like to thank the whole team for making the goal of lighting up Eleanora’s home with a wind turbine on the 22nd a reality. Working with Ben, Jack, Sn Abel, Yordi, Gean and Perry was an absolute pleasure and the past month is something I will never ever forget.

Pre-installation

Getting up early to avoid the heat of the midday sun, we headed down to the beach armed with water and sun cream. This was our last day in Playa Blanca and while the trip had already offered much excitement, we had one last activity in store. The activity involved a very old rowing boat and a heavily pregnant woman. Who’d say no to fishing in the pacific?

She had gotten up even earlier than us and we all looked on as she expertly steered the rickety boat through the surf and onto our beach. We were off; 5 of us squeezed precariously into the tiny boat which felt like a strong sneeze could take it down. As the shore got further away it finally occurred to us to offer to row, we were not pregnant after all (and we’re men..), but she was having none of it – this is what she did every day, powering this boat out into the sea was as normal as making breakfast.

Fishing

My fears about capsizing proved unfounded and we soon had the anchor in place, ready to fish. We used simple hand lines with some sort of sea louse (about an inch long with wriggly feet) as bate. Off we went, casting and waiting for about 2 hours moving the position of the boat every so often in attempt to find a shoal. Conditions weren’t perfect; apparently the sea was rougher than usual which meant a lesser chance of a big haul. Ben brought home two specimens however and Eleanora managed to get three. After she sensed we were getting tired she dropped us back at the shore and headed back out to continue her days work.

Amidst all the joking around, the better luck next time kind of thing, it occurred to me just how hard a life this must be. In Playa Blanca, stuck in the middle of Peru’s vast coastal desert, the sea is all there is to live on – a couple of bad days in the boat must be incredibly stressful as a large proportion of the food supply and along with monetary income immediately runs dry. The vast majority of the people living in Playa Blanca face this fear, but if you think that would lead to a community on edge then you’d be wrong. I’ve seen more stressed faces during an hour of a tough university exam on “Industrial Management” than I ever would if I lived for the rest of my life in Playa Blanca. People get happy, get sad but it feels like people just don’t have time to be stressed.

We had installed the turbine at Eleanora’s house the day before. This involved getting the help of half the village in lifting the tower where after we moved inside to tackle the more fiddly wiring. We noticed one corner of the building adorned with fresh flowers (a rare sight out in the desert) and a drawing of a girl. The girl, we were told, was Eleanora’s daughter who had died last year. She had passed away in hospital after complications with an infection and was only 20 years old.

Me and the turbine

This is me with the final product. Here’s to more projects with WindAid and above all more turbines!