A former Sault Ste. Marie man has been instrumental in improving lives in a small village in Nicaragua.
John Shoust, 40, started www.windsofchangecanada.com about one and half years ago.
“Our goal was to create a simple, locally build irrigation solution for farmers in rural Nicaragua. Many Nicaraguan farmers were displaced after years of civil war and resettled on old plantation fields. The government provided them with the land, small amounts of materials to build basic tin huts but little more,” Shoust tells SaultOnline.com
“The fields, they have remained baron as they no means of irrigating the field in any way to grow crops. We partnered up with University of Toronto engineering and 4th year engineering students and designed a low cost windmill that could be built out of simple locally sourced materials.”
Three teams of four students have made trips to Nicaragua over the last 18 months to build the windmill, something that has become vital to Pedro Arauz, a village about 50 kilometres south of capital city Managua.
The windmill helps pump about 15 cubic metres of water a day. Pedro Arauz has experienced long periods of drought, and most people in the area survive on subsistence farming without the technology needed for effective irrigation.
“Before we arrived the community planned and started a community garden near where the windmill was installed. This was setup to test the ability of the windmill and give the community a chance to learn more about agriculture and irrigation,” Shoust said.
The engineering graduate from Lake Superior State University in 2000 and who received an MBA in 2013 from Laurier University said his long term goal is to continue to work and expand to other communities.
“This project and the long term goals of Winds of Change is to continue to work in this [community] and other communities to assist in additional windmills, welding training and agricultural training to enable them to become self sufficient and grow food for both their families and bring extra to market as a source of income,” Shoust said.
“These families live well below the poverty line ($1-2 a day) and opportunities like this can have a major impact and ripple effect on their way of life.”