BEYOND THE CALL


schedule

Sir Walt Ratterman

Walt Ratterman looking off in the distance while standing in a desert

Sir Ratterman brings his knowledge of solar power and renewable energy to the team. Formerly senior vice president for projects with Foley Electric, Inc., he subsequently founded TRC Electrical Construction Services, a commercial electrical contracting firm installing solar PV systems in Pennsylvania and Maryland. He has extensive renewable energy design and installation experience internationally and is currently chief project officer & director of Sun Energy Power Corporation. Sir Ratterman’s experience includes residential and commercial PV installations in the eastern U.S., as well as rural solar PV installations in the Galapagos Islands, southern Ecuador, India, Nicaragua, Peru, Thailand and Burma.

Update

What are some examples of missions you have been on since BEYOND THE CALL was filmed, and why or how did you choose them?

I have been pretty constantly on the road since BEYOND THE CALL was filmed. I have been working primarily in renewable energy projects in very remote locations around the world, mostly where we started working in the years of the original Knightsbridge missions. I have been working to combine the solar energy work with the medical work and it is coming along quite well.

Examples of work we have done since the film:

India: Solar power for a Buddhist monastery high in the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh, bordering Bhutan.

Pakistan: Solar water pumping in the FATA areas of NW Pakistan, where I am leaving tomorrow for a continuing effort there. This is particularly risky due to the bombing that the U.S. has allegedly taken part in recently.

Burma/Thailand: Knightsbridge did medical deliveries to clinics in Burma in 2000. I have been providing training and equipment for clinics inside Burma every year since. Earlier this year, I spent two weeks inside Burma visiting the clinics where we had previously provided solar systems, and there I provided additional training and maintenance/repair work. While I was going in, the military were burning villages and killing people in the largest offensive in the past ten years. We have just two days ago returned from a combined medical equipment supply, medical training and solar system training in two of the main training clinics inside Burma. We also provided training, equipment and installation for a solar hybrid system in the first of seven refugee camps on the border, to provide electricity for computer centers for the refugee vocational and engineering students. We will complete all seven camps by March of 2007. We will return in April of 2007 to do more solar systems for clinics, and to deliver more medical equipment to these clinics, and more medical trainings in trauma work, all with Knightsbridge folks.

Ecuador: Working with the Shuar Indians in southern Ecuador to provide electricity to VERY remote villages there. We have worked with four villages to date.

Rwanda: Working with more than 20 medical centers to provide training, equipment, and installation for diagnosing and treating of HIV/AIDS and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

Haiti/Guyana: I will be traveling there later this year to make an assessment of how best to provide electricity for their AIDS/TB clinics where there is no grid electricity.

Nicaragua: We have completed two solar water pumping projects there.

Thinking back on your Knightsbridge missions, what is one experience that stands out as especially moving, dangerous, exciting or memorable?

Every one of them is extremely memorable. The work we did in Afghanistan probably stands out since we spent so much time there, and since the need was so terrific. But, the work we are doing every day for people is every bit as important, especially from the perspective of those receiving the assistance.

The most rewarding of all is when we are able to combine solar power and renewable energy work with improved living conditions through electricity and better, or sometimes the only, means of health care. The work we are doing in Burma is extremely needed. People are dying there every hour. It is similar to what is going on in Darfur, just not as publicized. The recent trip where we did medical training, medical equipment delivery, solar training and equipment delivery was a perfect example of what Knightsbridge is all about. This work inside Burma is also quite risky—that is why not many people do it.

Have there been any changes within the Knightsbridge International organization, such as new goals or additional knights?

Ed would be a better spokesperson for this. Our goals are to help people who need help the most, in areas that are so hard to get to that nobody else will do it. Yes, we have additional Knights, and they are terrific. Jonathan Cohen who went with me to Burma is one, and he did a great job. Jim Simcoke, who helps with the medical and the solar work is not a Knight yet, but is every bit as significant a member as the rest of us.

Several women standing, wearing blue and white burkas as well as yellow and red scarves

Has your involvement in Knightsbridge International changed your perspectives on the world or other aspects of your life? If so, how?

Of course it has. Ever since our first days of Knightsbridge, my life has been completely changed. I rarely see a real toilet or a hot shower, or anything other than the three sets of clothes I carry with me. I have to be careful who I talk to, and where I go. I shut down my business. I have no idea where funding will come from for this work. But I know for sure it is the right thing to be doing.

What was it like to be filmed for the documentary?

A real pain. But I love Adrian, and the film is absolutely terrific, and we need to take this and make it work for the long-term financial sustainability of Knightsbridge.

What's up next for you, either in the long or short term?

I’ll be in Pakistan next and then Haiti and/or Guyana. Following that, I will be in Rwanda trying to supervise a technician team of ten Rwandans to install up to 20 large health clinic systems all across the country.

In the spring of 2007 I expect to be back on the Burma border with a combination solar clinic/medical equipment supply and medic training mission. This all depends on funding.

After the spring, I’m still not sure. We are trying to raise funds for more projects in the Shuar area of Ecuador. There are projects in Liberia and Afghanistan I am looking at too, and I think we really need to be in Darfur, if we can get the funding.

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