The usage of solar power is growing around the world, and that includes the remote jungles of Burma.
The leader of a humanitarian worker in Burma tells Off the Grid News that without solar power, his work would be much tougher – if not impossible. David Eubank is the founder of Free Burma Rangers, a group of men and women who, since 1997, have, roamed the villages and jungles to assist victims of the civil war that has ravaged the country for more than six decades. The group brings medical care, shelter, food, clothing and spiritual assistance to the pro-democracy citizens who are battling government soldiers. The rangers have helped more than 1 million people, providing medical help to more than 500,000.
Solar power, Eubank said, is “the key to all the coordination relief.”
“In some areas there are no other realistic options, as we are on the move most of the time in the jungle,” hiding in places “where the internally displaced people live deep in mountainous jungles — far from roads and electrical grids.”
There are limited, small hydro systems in some locations, and the rangers try to carry batteries, but “solar is the best, most portable solution.” It also has a unique, added advantage: It’s renewable – and free.
Solar power is used to power the rangers’ computers and communications equipment, including satellite phones. They also use it to charge headlamps and flashlights, and camera and video camera batteries.
Humanitarian workers around the world, he said, often rely on solar power, and he sees that usage growing.
“I think for people in remote areas like we operate in, solar power is the cheapest, lightest, most portable, most robust, simplest and cleanest way to get needed power,” Eubank said.
An American and the son of missionary parents, Eubank formed the Free Burma Rangers in 1997 to assist the pro-democracy citizens fighting the military regime. During that year alone, 100,000 people fled their homes as the government army destroyed an unknown number of villages. Today, more than 1 million people remain displaced.
Eubank and his family spend eight months a year in the villages and jungles, assisting anyone in need. The rangers don’t discriminate among ethnic groups. There are about 70 ranger teams providing assistance. The rangers have three requirements:
- Love everyone.
- Be able to read and write (due to the medical, reporting and mapping work).
- Don’t flee if the Burmese people are attacked.
The last requirement, no doubt, can be the most difficult. Eubank said the first instinct is to think: I’ve got a wife a kids, and I can run fast.
“And then I look and I say, ‘Lord, give me love. Give me love,” Eubank said during an interview with Bill Heid and Brian Brawdy of Off the Grid Radio. “And then I look and I see some … a displaced person, some family, some kid — and man, I just suddenly feel this love and that’s from God and I go, ‘That could be my kid.’ Then I think, ‘You know what? It’s okay. I’m going to stay with this person and if I die here it’s OK.”
The threat of dying is real, Eubank said.
“There’s a lot of bullets flying around and we try to get out of the way. But that’s just something that I’ve learned being here.”
Eubank is a Christian, as are about 80 percent of the rangers. His faith is what drives him, he said.
“I always share what God has done for me to anybody who will listen and my prayer is that everyone on our teams — like everyone I meet and myself — will become closer and closer to the Lord and be the people He made us to be, and from that will become the countries that He wants us to be,” he said.
Burma is not yet a democracy, but it has taken steps in recent years. Following sanctions from numerous countries, it held elections in 2010 and 2012. Eubank said there is hope for Burma’s democracy movement, although he said the elections were not fully free and fair. And the army is still attacking some ethnic groups, he said.
Eubank asked that Christians in America pray that the Burmese democracy movement will take hold, and that the Burmese people will come to know Christ.
“I feel the greatest liberation that Burma needs is the same thing America needs and the same thing I need, and that is a relationship with Jesus of love and thus, of loving other people,” Eubank said.