Church’s solar gift will keep power on at 6 clinics in India
A Virginia church is donating $24,000 to fight COVID and climate change at the same time.
The gift will equip health clinics in India with solar panels. COVID patients have died there during power outages. Solar power will keep ventilators and oxygen supplies from turning off.
Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ is donating the panels through the Maryland-based Solar Village Project. The solar arrays will go up at six rural medical clinics in Uttar Pradesh, in northern India.
An overwhelmed system
Rock Spring is now the largest contributor to SVP’s campaign for that purpose, the church said in announcing the gift. SVP Executive Director Joe Kselman thanked the church for providing “much needed sustainable and reliable solar power.”
“India’s rural health care infrastructure has always been challenged, but COVID-19 overwhelmed the system,” he said. “Critically, according to the think tank Power For All, 50 percent of rural health clinics in India don’t have access to reliable electricity.
“Modern medicine can save lives but only if there’s reliable access to electricity for storing vaccines and blood, and to power critical equipment like oxygen generators and ventilators.” Rock Spring’s gift, he said, will “ensure that the clinics we work with have sustainable and reliable access to electricity 24 hours a day for seven days a week. These projects your congregation made possible will literally help save lives.”
‘Dual world crises’
“What a powerful witness,” said the Rev. Jim Antal. An environmental activist and author, he serves as a special advisor on climate justice to UCC General Minister and President John Dorhauer. “Rock Spring UCC’s generous gift illustrates how all the justice issues are connected,” Antal said. “May this inspire more houses of worship to help needy neighbors using the best science to address the dual world crises of climate change and COVID.”
In its announcement, the church noted that the gift is just the latest of its climate-justice actions.
“Since 2018, Rock Spring UCC and SVP have joined in partnership to support micro-lending for solar lanterns and solar arrays on schools in rural India,” it said. “In 2020, Rock Spring members and friends traveled to Puerto Rico and equipped three community centers with solar in partnership with SVP. One of those sites was then used to care for COVID patients at the beginning of the pandemic.” Rock Spring member Jerry Hartz serves on SVP’s board.
“Our faith calls us to look at the broken places in the world and respond with action and commitment,” said the Rev. Laura Martin, the church’s associate pastor. “This mission pairs Rock Spring’s response to climate change with support for COVID victims — two issues that are taking lives every day. We celebrate the vision and transformation that the Solar Village Project is making during the COVID crisis.”
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