By: Ammara Bokhari | Global Needs Ambassador | firstname.lastname@example.org
Pendakwadi, India — Thaakat celebrated the new year by embarking on its latest global project: “Project Greenlight India”, an effort to help light up a poor village that had zero access to electricity. Like several poor villages across the nation with the highest number of people living without electricity, villagers are left with darkness after sunset. Through a partnership with Greenlight Planet, a US based enterprise that distributes solar powered LED lanterns, Thaakat Foundation was able to provide solar lanterns to 350 families!
More than 400 million people don’t have access to electricity in India. It’s an issue that continues to be widespread in South Asia, whether it be limited access or load shedding. Many poor villagers face its difficulties and in lieu of electricity, resort to the use of kerosene lamps, which is both dangerous and expensive. Nearly two million people die each year due to pulmonary diseases caused by the indoor burning of fuels (used as a source of light and for cooking). Close to half of this two million are children who die of pneumonia.
Solar lanterns are a clean and effective alternative to kerosene lamps. Portable, waterproof, and able to provide 16 hours of light after a 4 hour solar charge, they are an ideal asset for poor villagers. Greenlight Planet recently sent 1200 solar lights to flood affected victims in Pakistan and the organization’s efforts have been featured in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal.
University of Illinois graduate Harshil Parikh manages expansion and distribution for Greenlight Planet in India. He recently moved to India from the states in order to have a more hands-on approach with the organization. Parikh led Thaakat’s distribution of solar lanterns to 350 families in the village of Pendakwadi, located in the Thane district of India. Previous on-site visits to the village had been conducted, examining the condition of the village, writing down names of families, and amounts of lanterns to be distributed to each family. The average monthly household income for each family is around Rs.2000, which is about $44 per month. Thaakat Foundation provided a 50-60% subsidy for the lanterns and the villagers were able to pay Rs.300-350 for them. Subsidizing lanterns for an affordable cost allows villagers to invest in a product they can use, helping to realize its true value.
An escape from the day’s heat, having a light at night holds many advantages for poor villagers: helping children study and learn, adults cook, and workers to travel back and forth to and from work in safety.
On the day of distribution, all villagers were gathered in an area and taught how to use the solar lanterns. The team stayed with the villagers through the day and into the night, answering questions and ensuring proper installation of the solar panels. As night fell, the villagers had begun using the lanterns, right away benefiting from its use.
“I have to say that in all my travels to villages in India so far, this was one of the poorest I have been to,” Parikh explained about his visit. “This village has absolutely no electricity, is in a very hilly area with no other major infrastructure or access to markets close by.”
Thaakat Foundation plans to adopt a small district in India and continue providing solar lanterns to poor villagers, in hopes to brighten up their nights, one light at a time. Best of all, it’s environmentally friendly! Tax-deductible donations can be made online by visiting our PayPal link here =)