Electrical workshop

“A Bright Light in Fontem”

The Little City of the Focolare should be a light to the world, as Chiara Lubich had dreamt. It is so through the life of the gospel lived by its citizens. But to be “a light,” an actual power is also needed. In fact, how to run a hospital to respond to the urgent need of the dying people in the middle of the forest without any energy source is one of the major challenges of the focolarini who came to Fontem about 50 years ago. Knowing this difficulty, Chiara Lubich sent from Italy a focolarino physicist, Piero Pasolini. After inspecting the area, Piero came with an idea to build a hydro power plant.

Thanks also to the financial help of the Focolare members from all over the world, a 75kw turbine was imported from Europe and was installed in no time near a water torrent - the source for the turbine to operate. It takes 400 meters of 0.4 meter diameter pipe to channel water with a volume of 360 liters per second. The whole system is maintained by professionals, with regular cleaning. This keeps the equipment in good condition despite the unfavorable climate. The original turbine was replaced with a more powerful one in 1980, but the piping remains the same.

The power plant has become the source of energy for the different establishments of the whole citadel of Fontem: the Mary Health of Africa General Hospital, the Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom College, the Nursery School, the Electrical and Building Workshops, The Carpentry Shop, the Formation Center, the Parish and 16 other private houses. In brief, the hydro power plant serves to about 1,500 people.

The power generated is not enough to meet the growing needs of everyone. The electric use has to be scheduled so as to distribute the load in different hours during the day. This means delaying some activities that are dependent to energy use.

To build a new hydroelectric station near the hospital is imperative. In the proposed location, the high level difference from the water source will guarantee higher power generation compare to the present location. We hope to realize this project soon and continue to be a source a light to many!