SAN JUAN, Texas (KVEO) — A Washington, D.C. teen is at the forefront of an initiative aiming to ensure colonia residents in Texas are never left without power.
Dozens of cars lined up early Thursday morning at the Proyecto Azteca building in San Juan. They were the first to receive some of the 100 free and portable solar panels donated to Rio Grande Valley colonia residents.
Adie Selassie, 17, was at the event helping hand out the solar panels to the residents in their cars. The Washington, D.C. teen played a large part in making this possible.
Three years ago, Selassie visited the Rio Grande Valley for the first time during a school trip and was astounded by the poverty and living conditions of those living in the colonias.
“I was inspired to do something about it, and I talked to Proyecto Azteca,” said Selassie. “[They] really helped me further my connection with the families and understand specific issues that families here needed help with. One of those was access to power and electricity.”
Through research and coordination with Proyecto Azteca, a non-profit self-help construction company serving low-income families in colonias and other rural areas in Hidalgo County, Selassie determined that giving these families solar panels would be the most direct form of help she could provide at the moment.
“Yeah, the colonias really needed something like this,” said Karina Cedillo, a Mercedes colonia resident, after picking up her solar panel. “It’ll help us a lot when it rains. Our lights always go out really quick.”
Selassie intended on getting these solar panels to residents last year, but the pandemic delayed the action.
Events that have followed, like the cold snap in February, further proved that items like solar panels are indispensable in these communities.
“We have a list of families that we work with, that we’ve met over the years… we found them and [gave] them the panels,” said Proyecto Azteca Executive Director, Amber Arriaga-Salinas. “This provides a great light source for those families.”
The light panels are portable so they can be moved around as needed and will help reduce electricity bills.
Selassie plans on continuing to help colonia families in the future. To learn about Live in the Light you can visit their website.