Light Up Puerto Rico urgently requests donations to send solar power and shelters to hurricane victims. Local support in Puerto Rico is already in place to effectively distribute the items to those with the greatest need.
SALT LAKE CITY, OCTOBER 6一The power crisis in Puerto Rico has left 95 percent of its inhabitants without power, but Utah aid groups are responding with immediate and sustainable solutions. The Light Up Puerto Rico effort brings power and shelter to those desperately in need. Interested individuals can make donations at www.tifie.org/donate, with 100 percent of funds going directly to the project.
Living without power affects all aspects of life— from stalled refrigeration and air conditioning in the island’s humid climate to an increased reliance on sunlight, which decreases daily productivity. Public safety has become a greater concern as the risk of crime increases. The extended loss of power has likewise proven deadly for those with medical conditions.
Light Up Puerto Rico’s mission is to provide solar-generators, solar-lights and durable shelters to Puerto Rico as fast as possible. Less than a week after the hurricane hit, Light Up Puerto partnered with another nonprofit, Tifie Humanitarian to put their project in motion.
Tifie is a perfect match for executing their plan— serving as a connection to purchase items at cost and offering expertise and experience with disaster relief. Tifie has provided power and shelter to families in the Philippines, Nepal, Fiji, and Syria, where shelters served as temporary housing as well as medical and birthing tents.
“Our method has proven to be timely and effective. The solar power systems can power refrigerators, phones, medical equipment, and the shelters are designed to last for years,” said Robert Workman, founder of Tifie Humanitarian. “We’ve found that, through providing these basic needs, individuals and families are enabled and empowered to rebuild their lives.”
Light Up Puerto Rico was founded three days after Hurricane Maria made impact by Jorge and Cari Lu Alvardo, natives of Puerto Rico. Their home in Bayamon, a neighborhood of San Juan, has become the central command post.
Their leadership experience and relationships in Puerto Rico enable effective and organized distribution of the product. Their team of local volunteers will oversee distribution of products on the ground and educating recipients on using the solar-powered system— a critical key to success.
The best way to help at this time is by making a donation and sharing the Light Up Puerto Rico effort with others. All donations made to Tifie Humanitarian are tax deductible. Donations can be made through the following ways:
Check made out to Tifie Humanitarian and sent to 1215 E Wilmington Ave, Suite 140 SLC Utah 84106
Wire transfers can be made by contacting Halen Seevink at [email protected] or calling 801-792-4772
A number of solar-powered products and shelters have been purchased and will arrive in Puerto Rico by October 17th thanks to donations from individuals, product and shipping logistics from Vivint Smart Home and product New Star Solar. Local businesses like Beaches Tanning Center, Spherion Staffing and Oozle Media have donated time and money to the effort.
Light Up Puerto Rico is led by Jorge and Cari Lu Alvarado, natives of Puerto Rico. For over 20 years Jorge was an executive for Franklin Covey and served in civic and church leadership responsibilities in Puerto Rico. The devastation in Puerto Rico is intensely personal to the Alvarados and the other founding members of Light Up Puerto Rico.
Tifie Humanitarian (5013c3 Status, EIN: 20-8360616) was founded in 2007 by Robert Workman and is based in Salt Lake City. Their mission is to enable people to meet their own basic needs through power, shelter, food, water and education. Tifie has an endowment fund that pays for all operating expenses so 100 percent of all donations go directly to its projects. www.tifie.org. Contact Halen Seevinck at [email protected] or at 801-792-4772.
A portion of the donated tents have immediately been put to work upon arrival in Syria and Kurdistan.
Safe Shelters in Idlib, Syria set up as medical triages
The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) received 15 Barebones Living shelters from Direct Relief and immediately put them to use in Idlib as triage areas for incoming patients. The shelters being set up next to a damaged hospital to provide a safe and dignified space for medical staff to assess needs. They also provided a protected space for children and families to wait together while family members undergo treatments.
Idlib is one of the few provinces in Syria that is not under regime control, although it is in a state of alert as fighting between various armed groups are vying for control, and is about 60 km from Aleppo.
Safe Shelters in Kurdistan used as medical mobile clinics
Five shelters were deployed to Kurdistan and are being used as mobile medical clinics and child safety areas. The location is Talward, a newly liberated village in Kirkuk, from ISIS control.
The team on the ground love the shelters and have requested more. Directorate of Health set up mobile clinics before using the actual hospitals in the those areas.
How you can help Syrian Refugees
The independent Doctors Association have received shelters and they are currently in transit. Hospitals and health care workers are being targeted by the Syrian Regime, and many are having to offer medical services, literally, underground (visit Saving Lives Underground learn about hospital needs) in order to avoid attack. Barebones shelters will provide alternative locations for medical treatment and services.
The refugee shelter need is greater than what Tifie and Barebones can provide but every donation, social media share, or fundraising event helps. 100% of donations for our Safe Shelter—Syria goes directly to purchasing shelters and shipping them overseas.
Slideshow of Shelters In Action
Safe Shelter set up next to damaged hospital in Idib, Syria
Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) set up safe shelter tents and immediately put them to use as medical triage areas for incoming patients
SAMS setting up safe shelter
SAMS setting up safe shelter
SAMS setting up safe shelter
SAMS setting up safe shelter
SAMS setting up safe shelter
Safe shelter being used as medical triage
Safe shelter being used as medical triage
Safe shelters also serve as a protected space for children and families to wait together while family members undergo treatment
The team on the ground love the shelters and have requested more
Shelters provide a safe and dignified space for medical staff to assess needs
Safe Shelters to be used outside hospitals of areas affected by Hurricanes
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria, Tifie has responded by donating shelters with Direct Relief to provide immediate support. We are sending 15 tents with Direct Relief medical donations to Anguilla, British Virgin Islands – Tortola, and St Martin.
The tents have already arrived in St Martin and will be used outside of the hospital.
How you can help with those affected by Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria
The more tents we can send, the more lives we can help. Donate to our Safe Shelter Project today (100% of your donation goes toward the project) and share the need with others.
Our past donations to Fiji, Nepal, the Philippines shows the direct impact of having a safe shelter to use for temporary medical or housing needs provides. Thank you!
Tifie Humanitarian has been around much longer than 10 years, at least in spirit. Robert and Angé Workman’s desire to do humanitarian work began many years ago. They were unsure of where the desire would go at the time but Angé knew they would make it happen.
We recently interviewed Angé–asking her to look back through the past 10 years of Tifie’s ventures–and what she’s discovered is how much personal growth has happened during that time.
Development in DRC: Hand Out to Hand Up
Angé’s first trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was in November, 2007, where she visited one of the first farms and orphanage Tifie was involved with. Through the years she saw the changes that can take place when people are given access to electricity, ability to build better homes and the knowledge and resources to running a business. Seeing homes evolve from mud-brick and thatched roofs that melt during the rainy season, to having metal roofs with lights inside was just one of the things she remembers.
The DRC Orphanage
She recalled visiting the young children in the orphanage–though most of them teenagers and adults by now–and seeing the condition they were in. The first orphanage was quite small, the children didn’t sleep on beds. The only source of water came from a spigot in the yard and she was unsure of how clean it was.
Through the years she saw a lot of changes to the orphanage; moving the kids to a new facility, getting them beds, separate bedrooms and bathrooms for boys and girls (which became more important as the kids matured), clean water and a kitchen with a stove. The children were put into school, as many were not in school before, and received consistent daily meals.
Angé believes that the work in DRC helped each child individually, but what is for certain, is that the lessons she learned from those early years in DRC left a lasting impression on herself.
Q: How did your experiences in the DRC touch you personally?
“I was very touched, to see the conditions people live in but at the same time they are very happy–they don’t have a lot. We don’t need a lot of things to make us happy. So I learned a great lesson there. I think I already knew that but it was just cemented in that they were happy and they could exist without a lot of fancy things in their lives and they were able to learn and find joy in the simplicity.
Another thing I saw at the beginning was everybody was reaching out with their hands expecting something to be given to them. And we never did that, we always required that work be done to receive anything. But after we’d been there a few times we didn’t see people reaching out with their hands expecting us to give them something anymore.”
Teaching Individuals and Families Independence through Enterprise is where Tifie’s namesake comes from. Teaching people to thrive and not just giving them things is what Tifie’s mission has been from the beginning.
The work and people in DRC is not the only thing that has done it’s evolving. Through the years, Tifie Humanitarian has changed the way it operates for individuals and communities it serves. (More on that to come as we reflect on lessons learned through the years.) And perhaps, for this reason, Angé has felt that the recent work Tifie is doing has impacted her even more.
A Different African Experience: Ghana
Angé first visited Ghana in 2015 with the mission to power education. The Kushea Community Partnership is
the perfect example of what happens when like-minded people come together with good intent. A partnership created out of our connection and collaboration with Point Innovate, King Nana Prah and Goal Zero. The goal of Project Kushea is to provide sustainable power for the community so individuals, families, and businesses can finally provide for themselves.
She recalls her first trip there feeling similar to that of Congo, aside from some of the infrastructure being more developed within the city but even has you drove out of the city she saw a lot of mud-brick homes with thatched roofs.
Yet, as she arrived in Kushea for the first time, it was an impressive sight. Many of the homes were made of real brick and painted. They had glass windows and metal roofs. It even had paved roads and and streets. She attributes this village’s success and progression to it’s leader, Nana Prah–who has been King over the area for 30 plus year and continually finds ways to grow and develop Kushea. She believes they are much farther along than what she saw in Congo because their leader had vision to help them rise up. In fact, a lot of Kushea has access to electricity–although it’s not always the most reliable–because Prah worked with the government to get it there.
“He even had trash barrels that he’d place all over town with the colors of the Ghananian flag and he expected people to pick up their trash! If he was driving through the village he would honk his horn if he saw some trash on the ground [and] people would right away pick it up because they knew.”
Angé’s recent trip to Kushea in March 2017 has been one of her most memorable because they were able to install solar power into a school and village that previously had no power. Having access to power at night means kids can study, families can spend time together, and that community events like weddings or classes can occur.
During this last trip Angé was personally able to interview some of the villagers. When interviewing one of the health professionals at Kushea’s health clinic, it became apparent that living without power can be devastating.
“The main clinic doctor told me that one time a family brought in a child and the electricity was off. They couldn’t do any testing of the blood to see what the problem was. There wasn’t anything they could do because it was dark. So the parents ended up leaving and the child died. So it was very impactful for that health care professional to not want that to happen again.”
Through the past 10 years Tifie has sought to do good. From it’s early days with trying to teach entrepreneurship through creating businesses, to where it is now by partnering with people on the ground. Sometimes the work affects one person, a family or an entire community. But as Angé and Robert have expressed, the good we do always makes an impact on the person doing it. Angé has learned that building relationships on a personal level has made the biggest impact on herself, especially as she reflected on the “then” and “now”.
Angé Workman Maternity Clinic surprise and connection with Family Legacy
A special tribute commissioned by Robert awaited Angé during their March 2017 trip. Tifie has worked on projects centered around maternal health, like One Heart and Safe Shelter Nepal, and are proud to support a place that welcomes the next generation into a clean and safe environment.
The Angé Workman Maternity Clinic was a surprise to Angé and she was very touched. Especially because of the connection to midwifery through her family. Her father Arnold Branham being a male midwife, a great great grandmother through her mother LaRae Mills, have been involved with and passionate about midwifery. Angé herself delivered all of her eight children at home. In fact, her father delivered her oldest, Tara Tulley, who also went on to become a midwife.
“It was very touching. I was surprised how emotional I was about it. The legacy of home-birthing is in our family. But after interviewing some of the health care people at the health center, I truly understand why so many women still want to give birth at home. But, now there is a more comfortable option.”
Tifie’s overall impact on Angé and what she hopes for its future
Q: What differences have you had in your life before Tifie started and where you are right now?
“I’ve always loved learning languages and experiencing other cultures. I wasn’t able to do it for many years because I was raising a family and that was okay.
But now that I’ve been able to do it, it makes me more aware of culture and to be respectful of culture and not just assume that the way I do things is the best way to do things.
I think it helps me to be more empathetic and understanding and more willing to open my mind to ways of doing things. Hopefully it has helped me to have greater love for all mankind. That’s something I didn’t really quite understand when I was younger but now I can say that I truly can love people that I don’t even know.”
Q: What do you think makes Tifie Different?
“One hundred percent of any money or donations that come in directly go to help the project. They do not go to any kind of operating cost–at all. And that’s a big thing. People don’t even believe that. I know that sometimes people say, ‘yeah right,’ and kind of poo poo that, but it’s true.”
Q: What do you hope for Tifie for the future?
“As long as we can afford to keep doing it without having to seek donations, which we don’t like. We’ve changed the way Tifie operates. It works better to have someone on the ground that works in the culture, knows the culture, is part of the culture.
That has been much better way to go forward. But we aren’t trying to reinvent everything and we just give people tools. It may be in the way of money, it might be in the way of solar, it might be in the way of seeds or knowledge–whatever tools they need. And that’s the way we foresee that Tifie will continue to go into the future.”
TIfie visited the Kushea community in March as honored guests of Nana Prah. We have partnered with Nana in his community for over a year, donating cash and solar product to the community. Last year, we donated solar power to all community buildings–police station, health clinic, and schools.
Our founder, Robert Workman, has said that he wants to leave a legacy of maintenance and self-dependence in Kushea. Nana is leading by example, showing his community that they must take pride in whatever it is that they do, how they do it, and paying attention to the details. Every project that we’ve partnered on with Nana has been with the community involved throughout the process–from the idea, implementation, location, building, labor, and maintenance of the program. This is the key to leaving a legacy of self-reliance.
Checking Up On Projects
We were so pleased to see solar panels on many houses and on every public building. In the evening, we could see homes lit up by Goal Zero solar lights, children doing homework, and families being together. What an honor! It was rewarding to see empowered individuals taking hold of an opportunity and creating more with what they have been given.
As we visited all the community buildings that had received solar power donations, we realized that most people were lacking basic instruction on how to clean their panels, read the battery monitors and operate the equipment for their needs. It was evident that a need for solar-trained personnel is necessary. A trainer will provide training to the community on their solar power systems, start a small business for upgrades and repairs, and provide feedback on how people are using the systems. The idea of maintenance and “training the trainers’ was a theme that occurred almost hourly, and will lay the foundation for sustainability and long-term impact for all future projects.
We visited the Health Center and it was full of nurses and patients. One of the nurses we spoke with shared one of her passions–to teach the village how to prevent sickness through proper nutrition and hygiene. The Center’s goal is to have zero deaths in their community–one maternal death is too many.
The clinic is working with local nursing and doctoral students to teach the community about preventative health and it offers contraception and feminine hygiene products to the women of the community.
Last year Tifie donated $1,500 to the local police station for renovation and power needs. When we walked through, there was an upgraded office with new paint LAL’s (link), and most importantly–DOORS ON THE JAIL. Kuzu and Richard, the police staff on duty the day we visited, were happy to pose for photos in front of the newly constructed jail door, show us lights that they use in their offices, and tell us about how they are making Kushea a safer place.
We visited the ITC Center while two classes were being held. We saw students that were engaged and excited to use the tablets. The grade one students were practicing simple instructions and a counting game on the tablet. The grade six students were having their science class at the Center.
Tifie donated to the internet connectivity at the ITC and as of the April 30th, the internet is on and students are connecting! Ongoing costs for the ITC Center will be provided by three income streams: Local cocoa farmers donate a portion of their sales, students pay $0.05 per lesson, and once internet is set up, the Center will be used as an internet cafe for visitors and locals both.
Perpetual Power Project
One of our pillars of community development is power. Electiricy is a scarce resource in Africa, and Ghana is no exception. Power is provided in the city, but it is inconsistent.
In 2015 Robert announced that Tifie was planning on electrifying 100 families in Kushea, and we’re happy to report that the installation is complete! Tifie donated half the cost of a 100W solar panel, Goal Zero Yeti 400, 2 Light-A-Lifes to a business or individual, and the person paid for the other half.
Since Goal Zero and Tifie Humanitarian installed the Technology Center in Kushea, Ghana, there has been a growing vitality, more progress, and many intangible impacts to the community. It has been a hub for students and teachers to access modern technology with over 100 tablets in use by 600 students each week. Because of It’s popularity and success, the administration has expanded the hours of operation to be open on weekends to accommodate the community members who want to attend adult education classes and a use the internet cafe.
We talked with Danso Yaw Ofori, the new School Administrator, who shared his excitement about the changes that have occurred in the community. Danso is new life blood for the ITC Center; his role is much broader than his title. He is serving as a mentor to the students, a resource to their families, and a leader in the community. This is his story:
What motivates you? “What drives me as a person is to create change wherever I find myself and train my student to aspire to greater heights than I have reached.”
What is the first thing you want to accomplish as the Chief Administrator? “I want to elicit the interest of students to use the ITC Center to study more and aspire for greater heights.”
What are your dreams for the center in the community? “I want the Center to bridge the gap between rural people and their counterparts in the city through technology. I want the Center to be used by other professionals in the community to expand their knowledge and training in their professions. I want to provide opportunities for people with financial need to complete their education online.”
Danso recognizes that there are very promising students in the village settings who, when given the needed push, move higher up the academic ladder, access good jobs, and secure a good future. This also affects the student’s family and the community. “It marks the kind of change that Ghana needs,” he said.
When he talks about the students in Kushea he is passionate about giving them opportunity and says, ”people should not be neglected just because they are not blessed to be born in the cities, but unfortunately, are located in rural settings where there are no lights, no good drinking water, poor roads and no access to a communication network.”
When we asked Danso about the impact of the ITC Center on the community, he told us things we expected, like; 120 students attend, 11 jobs have been created, and additional schools in the area want to participate. But there were many more intangible impact stories that don’t show up in data collection metrics.
Intangible Community Impact
Student Pride has created increased volunteerism as students and teachers ensure the cleanliness of the grounds of the Center.
Hope that as the Center progresses, the economic life of the inhabitants will change, especially the women, who are mainly farmers.
Competition since every parent wants his or her child ward to participate.
Job creation brings satisfaction and motivation for the future
Community Ownership has developed since parents give a portion from their cocoa proceeds for the up-keep of the Center and organized communal labor keeps it clean.
Academic Relationships with universities in Accra. Nana Prah brought Care International staff to provide training to teachers and students for one week
“The ITC Center brings more hope to the community, improves learning, brings more workers to Kushea, and brings more clients from nearby. All this culminates to enhance the image of the community and enriches the economic life of the inhabitants,” Danso Yaw Ofori said.
The ITC Center stands out as the high impact model for how sustainable power can truly transform a community and provide opportunities for success. “It’s mind-blowing to see the immediate impact for the kids. They don’t see lack, just excitement about finding ways to make something better,” King Nana says. Thank you to Goal Zero for your generous donation of product and people to create bright futures for the community of Kushea.
We had a lot of fun participating in #GivingTuesday last week. Our biggest donation was made by Spherion! They donated $3,000 to go toward our Peru Greenhouse Business. project.
Ron Zarbock, owner of Spherion’s Utah offices, likes to make a pay-it-forward attitude part of his company culture. He says he has always focused on improving organizations and loves working with people and developing relationships. He said the best way to prosper during the holidays, as an employee or employer, is to fully serve and give everything you have.
“You never give back. You pay it forward,” Ron said.
Ron’s values, spirit and drive are also evident in his commitment to the Peru Greenhouse Project. As the Chairman of the Board for Tife, Ron believes in long-term relationships and long-term solutions. “There have been many short term projects in developing countries like Peru that do not provide long lasting results.”
He relates the story about how most people in the remote villages of rural Peru, wake up daily with only despair. “There is no industry, no way for them to share their talents and provide for themselves. Our project teaches them that they have tools to use to develop their talents. In this way they can serve others, create great products, and are able to provide for their families.”
Ron has traveled to Peru and works closely with our project team there. We asked him what change has he witnessed since we started this project.
“The most powerful thing I have witnessed is their gratitude. The Peruvian people we are working alongside of are enormously grateful for opportunity. Every opportunity throws open a new dream and possibility of what they are capable of. Even before they do it, the project gives them passion and hope.”
Waking up with hope instead of despair is a powerful shift. Once a person has vision enough to see how they can work with their hands to serve, add value and provide for themselves and others, then even the most gloomy days are bright.