January 19th, 2004


We have been overwhelmed by the interest in our next two trips, We are reluctant to turn people away but the two trips in this year are completely booked up. We cannot take very large parties to small villages as the effect can be disconcerting for the villagers and disappointing for the visitors who will not see the real community there. In Tanzania we are trying an experiment with multiple teams going to different villages in close proximity: this allows for more people to join the trip and we hope we shall have a successful outcome which will lead us to an alternative approach for other trips.


We continue to develop the technology, though not as fast as we would like. We aim to have a modular system this year which would be installed on a single house and not require any transportation of the battery to a central charging location. If we can achieve this then we will be able to offer the “kit” to anybody who would like to plan their own trips.


We have heard some reports of light failures in Guatemala and we will be revisiting Nuevo Horizonte to fix the problem. It seems that the central wired solution is not a good one and we shall not be using that approach again.


We also hope to visit to the two village in Bolivia on our way to Peru to ensure that everything is working well there and to install some additional lights in a small village en route to Pocobaya.


November 9th 2003


We have completed a trip to the Northern Areas of Pakistan and installed lights in three villages and one outlying community in the Shimshal Valley. For a complete description of that trip click on Pakistan 2003.



September 19th 2003


How hard it is to keep up with good resolutions! I had meant to make this a regular update. So here is a long news item and don’t get tired of scrolling!


Faith completed her visit to Guatemala in January and came back with all kinds of good contacts and most importantly a community, Nuevo Horizonte, who needed lights.


In April four of us set out for Guatemala. Faith and Anthony were joined by two intrepid persons who were still prepared to come after we had had an initial meeting! Rozalyn Parsons from Calgary and Annette Lemire from Edmonton flew with us to Guatemala City on April 14th.


Annette visited a foster child she has supported and the rest of us flew to Santa Elena in Peten. This is usually a starting point for people who want to go to Tikal. We were picked up at the airport in a large truck and drove the 30 kilometers or so to Nuevo Horizonte.


No sooner had we arrived than we started talking through our interpreter, Alex, to the people and planning how we should get under way. An immediate set back was that we had assumed that the buildings were wood framed: they weren’t! We had steel to deal with. However, we soon got round that and over the next ten days we got 230 lights installed.


We wired the houses together in clusters of 10 or so. This meant that there was no taking the batteries to a central point to charge them, but wiring meant that we became closely acquainted with some very prickly bushes! We selected one house in each cluster to have the solar panels mounted on the corrugated metal roof and to have the solar panel controllers mounted somewhere inside the house along with the main battery. Our choice was usually dictated by the presence or absence of overshadowing trees, but in some cases people were even prepared to cut down trees so that they could have the panels on their roof.


We had to point out that the panel capacity was limited to that required by the lights and that there was no spare capacity available for other uses.


We stayed in one of the houses in the community which gave us an insight into how people lived there and we ate meals with nearly every household at one time or another!


One of the community, Guillermo, was our guide and support person. Despite his limited English and our even more limited Spanish we managed to get the necessary work done. Over the installation period we found that some individuals were very apt for the tasks and we relied heavily on those people.


We tried to learn something about the community and their origins and experience whilst in the jungle. We heard of children taken to the jungle by the parents when they were young and then remaining there all their childhood and young adulthood, perpetually moving camp and always under the threat of military engagement. It was a life far removed from our experience and must have left its scars on individuals.


We left the community when our installation was completed to visit other parts of Guatemala and Belize, but we remain in touch to ensure that the lights continue to work and to try to provide some other assistance to them.


We visited Antiqua and travelled around Lake Atitlan. We climbed a disappointing, long defunct volcano at San Pedro but we enjoyed the colourful markets and vibrant communities.


Back in Guatemala City we met with the Solar Foundation of Guatemala and discussed with them our plans for a modular system which we hoped to be able to demonstrate in the near future. The Foundation agreed that they would keep an eye on the installation for us and notify us of any problems.


This allowed us to return to Calgary with all our goals for the trip achieved and with the knowledge of the needs of communities in places such as Guatemala.




November 16th 2002


Faith is visiting Guatemala in January 2003 to complete the arrangements for the trek in April 2003. An installation at a single village of about 60 homes is planned and the trip will be limited to a party of 6. (At present two paces are left.) The detailed itinerary will be posted here shortly.


We have had positive reports about the Bolivian installations. The lights are working satisfactorily in both Pocabaya and Quirembaya. Both young and old people are making use of the lights and they are perceived as being very beneficial. The villagers continue to express their gratitude.


The news from Nepal is similarly positive regarding the operation of the lights in Norung where we now have two years of continuous successful operation. Unfortunately there are now restrictions on the movement of electrical goods, including wire, within the country. This follows the use of remotely operated detonators using wired connections, including the explosion of a land-mine under a public bus.


In the fall of 2003 we hope to make a trip to Northern Pakistan. The villages north of Gilgit do not have access to electricity and would benefit from solar-powered lighting. We will provide more information about this trip in approximately two months.


Here are the press releases we distributed on October 2002, and the report on the presentations made to some of our valuable supporters.




October 6th, 2002.


Faith and Anthony Harckham led a group of 10 people on a trek and lighting installation in Bolivia. In total 120 homes in two villages were lit, each with 2 lights (kitchen and living/sleeping room). The lights use 1 watt white LEDs from Lumileds.


The lighting system was designed this summer to take advantage of the new lower cost, higher power diodes on the market. The design emphasizes ruggedness, low cost, power efficiency, low maintenance and ease of installation.


It is anticipated that a further design improvement will be started shortly with a second generation of lighting system available early in 2003.


Luxtreks is now working with contacts in various destinations (Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Ladakh) to provide for local manufacturing of the lighting system and to identify suitable target villages for lighting installations. Let us know if you are interested in any of these destinations and we will inform you of our plans as they mature. We regret that the continued political disturbances in the areas of Nepal off the usual tourist routes do not permit us to resume visits there at the present time.