Blog #1 - Transitions

Hello, my name is Brodie Yyelland. Normally I’m a solar energy project manager for a firm in Calgary, AB and chair of the ELSE Alberta chapter.  However, a couple of months ago, I was offered an opportunity  I could just not pass up.  ELSE and SunFarmer teamed up to create a two-month volunteer fellowship position in Nepal.  SunFarmer is a non-profit providing capital and technical support to improve energy access in developing markets.  The position requires traveling to Kathmandu, Nepal and assisting the SunFarmer team to develop “Off Grid U,” an online platform to share the knowledge and expertise needed for successful off-grid project development.  For the next two months, I will be updating this blog with posts, pictures and videos about my experience.

After running a gauntlet of preparations, I’ve finally made it to Kathmandu, Nepal.  A wave of relief is rushing over me - a new set of adventures is just beginning.

A quick tally of what I’ve just been through:  moving out of my Calgary apartment, getting my possessions tucked away into storage, tying up outstanding tasks at work including eight ongoing solar projects and a mountain of inquiries, quotes and correspondence.  With help from my ELSE Alberta board, we pulled off our first solar event at the University of Calgary and finished the week off strong by attending the last day of the Solar West 2015 conference.  There, we were able to meet some of the ELSE National board and listen to Noel and Mike (Co-Chairs of ELSE) give a fantastic closing keynote address, with some of the most inspiring and uplifting remarks I could have imagined about the ELSE AB team.

A mere twelve hours later, I was to begin my travels: a five hour flight to Toronto, a 13 hour flight to Abu Dhabi and finally, a four hour flight to Kathmandu.  As the plane descended through darkness, the faint and flickering lights of the city appeared. They look like twinkling stars and provide me my first glimpse of the reason why I have come.  It was a surreal introduction to Nepal’s intermittent and unreliable electricity, something that I have always taken for granted.

I secured my bags and after a quick taxi ride, I was finally shaking the hand of Ivan, my SunFarmer associate and roommate for the next seven weeks.  He will have lots to show me over the coming days but I already feel like I’m in good hands.

As I lie here and watch our apartment lights flicker and die, it’s still hard to believe where I am and what I’m about to do.

*Deep breath*

Here we go…