Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Robert Freling ’82

Even before this month’s devastating earthquake, Haiti’s infrastructure was a disaster. But the Solar Electric Light Fund, run by Robert Freling ’82, was doing its part to help. In September, the Washington, DC–based nonprofit brought sun-powered electricity to the rural Boucan Carré health clinic—the first of a series of such projects that SELF is undertaking in the Haitian countryside, almost all of which lacks electricity. After the quake, SELF temporarily diverted some of its solar equipment to power an emergency field hospital set up by the worldwide organization Partners in Health. PIH’s Haitian clinics run on diesel, which is dirty, expensive, and unavailable when rains wash out the mountain roads.

A Russian studies major at Yale, Freling has overseen solar projects in more than 15 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In addition to clinics, SELF has brought green energy to homes, schools, agricultural equipment, and even some whole villages. Last year, he received the King Hussein Leadership Prize for sustainable development. “Energy is a human right,” SELF’s website declares—and so too, perhaps, is information: the organization is now working on solar-powered wireless communications systems.

Filed under nonprofits, sustainability
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