Stories of Change

Top: Close up of solar panels in RAC, Middle: Oleg next to solar panel installation system, Bottom: CWS staff (left to right: Rebekah Blase, Rick Santos, Andrew Blakely, Steve Weaver and Bartosz Gawarecki) in front of solar panels at RAC

“A Strong Remedy for Climate Change”

For many of us, when we feel a change in the weather, we can walk to our thermostat and adjust the temperature. If we’d like to take a hot bath all we need to do is turn a handle, wait a bit, and hot water will come rushing out. Unfortunately, these things that we often take for granted are a luxury for many of our neighbors. In the nation of Moldova, for example, about six in every ten people are facing energy poverty. That means that people struggle to afford fuel and electricity.

Through our local partner, Ormax, we are working to ease this burden by providing solar panels and livestock to vulnerable families. Oleg Rotari, the current president of Ormax, shared that “780 families have participated in the [livestock] program. Eighty received pigs and 700 received chickens.” He also explained, “right now the biggest problem in Moldova is that we have an economic and energy crisis. Because of the war that’s going on in our neighbor country, Ukraine, everything has become more expensive. This contribution to families, especially those with many children, is gladly welcomed.” The livestock that families are now raising and caring for will help them afford fuel, electricity and other household items.

The installation of solar panels can be life changing for communities in Moldova. Oleg shared that one program participant used to pay about $50/month for energy costs. Since she received a solar panel for her home, she only pays about $10. He also explained that most families cannot afford to buy livestock due to high costs in the country. Through our program, families not only receive pigs or chickens for free, but they are also trained on how to raise them. “You’re not just giving them a fish, you’re teaching them how to fish,” Oleg stated.

The programs Ormax leads are supporting many Ukrainian refugees as well as families and shelters hosting them. Recently, we partnered with Ormax to install panels into a Refugee Accommodation Center in Soroca. Through this initiative, the center will be able to access energy more easily while lowering energy costs. This is especially important as Moldova approaches the cold winter season which can reach below freezing temperatures.

Another crucial point Oleg discussed with us is the impact of climate change. He told us, “you can see the changes in climate in Moldova very clearly. For example, we are experiencing droughts and not a lot of rain. This directly affects our ability to create food which then affects the economic situation since Moldova is an agriculture based country. This technology can help produce thermal energy and can heat water. It produces energy without the need to burn something. This technology is a strong remedy for climate change.”

The benefits of this program are clear to Oleg, who has dedicated his career to supporting his most vulnerable neighbors in Moldova. He said to us, “imagine the impact one solar panel can have on one household, then imagine a village, then imagine it at the country level. The impact would be massive if you have solar panels everywhere.” With Oleg, and our other partners we are working to spread this impact as much as possible.

We are thankful for our partner, the Latter-day Saints Charities for their generous funding of the livelihoods program in Moldova.