“Illuminating lives” – Solar Light Project

(24th March 2011)
Installation of solar lights in 100 households in the desert areas of Rajasthan (near Indo- Pak Border)

Our much awaited solar light project took final shape on 24th of March 2011. It was way back on our last visit to Rajasthan when the project was initialized.Under this project, 100 households were provided with solar lanterns in the remote villages of Rajasthan namely Bindani, Bijarad, Navtala and Sarupe ka tala. The beneficiaries of the project are all women artisans working with our partner NGO known as SURE who actively works for the upliftment of the rural population in that area.

With barren desert all around, this region is known for its traditional crafts like hand block printing, embroidery and appliqué .Situated on Indo Pakistan Border, it faces acute shortage of electricity and water supply

Life comes to a standstill for these poor folks as soon as the sun sets! We have witnessed the problems faced by the residents there in the absence of electricity. The productivity rate of these artisans is low as the people are not able to work in the evenings owing to darkness. Children’s education is seriously hampered as they can’t study at night; Chances of getting bitten by dangerous nocturnal creatures such as snakes & scorpions are also very high among villagers. As a substitute to electricity, people try to make use of kerosene lamps but they are not within everyone’s reach with the fuel prices touching sky high. Some of the artisan families who make use of kerosene lamps have to suffer its side effects like smoky fumes leading to suffocation in poorly ventilated houses, These fall low on providing good light intensity and also give rise to serious health & fire hazards.

SETU did the ground level research and found that solar lamps could be a better alternative as they fall good on economic as well as safety aspects.

On 24th March 2011, a programme was organized to carry out the distribution of solar lanterns in the campus of SURE. Founder and Managing director of SURE, Ms. Lata Kachhawaha and entire SETU team consisting of team head Rashmi, team members Devendra Dhariwal and L.R. Kaushal and special volunteers Amaninder and Harpreet were present at the occasion. Amaninder and Harpreet have come down from all the way toCanadato witness the event. The beneficiaries, 100 women artisans belonging to the villages of Bindani, Bijarad, Sarupe ka tala and Navtala were called at SURE campus and were provided with solar lanterns. Detailed training on the usage & installation was also provided to the women by local experts.

The cost of each lantern comes out to around 3,000 Rs which SETU is providing free of cost.The solar panels are installed on the roofs of houses. The lanterns are portable and handy to use and thus offer complete mobility.

When asked how they feel on getting the lanterns, one of the women said that “ab mai chaar paise aur kamapaaongi raat ko kaam karke” (Now, I can earn some more money, working at night). Another was happy that now her children will get some extra time to study in the evenings & night! “ Ab to taabariya raat maine bhi padh – likh lenge”Some other artisans said that solar lights will help them in marriages and similar other functions as now they no more have to arrange for costly kerosone lanterns from cities as solar lanterns are much easily available within the village itself and don’t pose extra expenses.

It’s good to know that artisans are happy with the solar lights and will be using them for variety of purposes; this project tells us that we are moving in the right direction and surely the day is not too far away when we will achieve our goal of illuminating the world of every single artisan associated with SETU!!