Centro Educativo Mbaracayu

Mbaracayú Educational Centre is a technical boarding school for rural and indigenous girls ages 15-18. It is located in the Mbaracayú Reserve’s forest. This centre opened its doors in 2009 and represents an initiative of the Fundación Paraguaya, in alliance with Moises Bertoni, owner of the centre. It offers the last three years of high school and students graduate with a technical degree in environmental sciences. The girls pay a symbolic amount to cover the cost of their education and help at the tourism lodge and with the sale of products from the farming center run by the school.

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The school suffers from unreliable electricity and hot water supplies. The students are currently building solar water heaters using local materials with the help of their instructor. The project proposed for this year’s Zayed Future Energy Prize addresses energy security through the installation of a solar thermal system for electricity and hot water, and mounting gravity lights that do not require an external power source. The school also proposes planting and cultivating indigenous Kupa’y “diesel trees”, the resin of which can be used as a biodiesel to power the school’s generator and tractors. Cultivating these trees is expected to raise awareness about the sustainable use of indigenous natural resources.

The cost of the project is $120,200. This includes a solar thermal system priced at $65,000, which is for a system that provides 10.8 kilowatts of electricity power and 51.5 kWh of hot water at 55 degrees Celcius. It also includes $10,000 for a comic book and puppet show, $8,000 of which is to hire a contractor to write the scripts and design the puppets, sets, comic book illustrations, and assist with production. The puppet shows and comic books will be part of outreach efforts to share sustainability learnings with other schools.

Professional assistance is needed for much of this work, according to the application. Mbaracayu Educational Center will provide the additional $20,200 in funds needed for the project.

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