December 6, 2011
Haitian Youth Bring New Light to #Haiti — IDEJEN & #YouthBuild International’s JENKA Training Center in Gressier

Haitian youth construct "Tou Limen" lanterns from recycled soda bottles and miniature solar panels. Photo Credit: YouthBuild International


Haiti is largely dark at night.  Not a light pole, not a blue television light, not even a car light pierces the night in many vicinities.  Now Haitian youth are breaking the night with a simple technology — one they create.  At the Gressier JENKA Training Center for youth, born of a partnership between Haitian NGO, IDEJEN and YouthBuild International, based in Somerville, MA, “a production team of JÈNKA students have set up a micro-factory to manufacture low-cost, safe, solar-powered lanterns for use in the 88 percent of Haitian households with no access to electricity. ‘Tou Limen’ (which means “always shining” in Haitian Creole“)…is a portable lantern , invented by Green Energies, that can be used as a flashlight, desk lamp or overhead lamp providing 72 hours of light on one eight-hour charge. This innovative lantern is made up of a recycled plastic water bottle, rechargeable batteries, LED bulbs, and simple electronic components. ‘Tou Limen’ will be sold by JÈNKA students for about 800 Haitian Gourdes (HTG), approximately $20.  In less than a year, the solar lantern will pay for itself in fuel savings, since many Haitian homes are lighted by dangerous, polluting kerosene lanterns.”


The 9,000 square-foot JENKA Training Center in Gressier, built near the center of the Haitian earthquake, was constructed by the youth themselves.   Working alongside adults “for ten weeks—overcoming hurricane Tomas, flooding, a cholera epidemic, and materials shortages” — they built the first JÈNKA training center, completed one year and a day after the earthquake.  By the end of 2016, twelve more JÈNKA youth centers are slated to be built by 9,000 young women in “Corail, Gonaives, Cap Haitien, Les Cayes, Jeremie, and Hinche.”


For the complete just-issued ten-year retrospective report by YouthBuild International on its work in Haiti and 56 locations in 16 countries see:


In April 2011 a team from the Haiti Fund at the Boston Foundation met Haitian youth manufacturing the “Tou Limen” lamps, IDEJEN Director Guerda Previlon, as well as youth learning carpentry and electrical skills at the Gressier JENKA center.  IDEJEN/YouthBuild received a 2011 grant from the Haiti Fund for the Tou Limen project.