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Youth group lights up villages in India using solar energy

Staff Report
Filed on December 6, 2015 | Last updated on December 6, 2015 at 03.59 pm
Youth group lights up villages in India using solar energy


(Supplied photos)





The Green Hope team conducted a half day workshop at this school, spreading awareness about the sustainable development goals, the current state of the environment and the important role of young people in mitigating climate change.

Youth organization Green Hope travelled to the desolate salt pans in the Indian state of Gujarat and distributed solar rechargeable lamps amongst the migrant labourers who live in huts and have never seen electricity. Their children, some of whom attend school can now study at night with the help of these solar lamps.

A Ray of Hope

The Rann of Kutch in the Indian state of Gujarat is one of the most desolate and arid in the world. It's a vast , barren land of salt marshes with very little vegetation and means of subsistence. This landscape is one of the major sources of salt not just for India but globally. Temperatures during the day soar to above 50 degress Celsius while the nights are bitterly cold. These salt marshes are home to migrant labourers, called "Agarias" who toil in pitiful conditions to manually extract salt through natural evaporation of the sea water. They live in temporary shelters with no electricity and trek barefoot across this vast wilderness, in search of work.

Youth organisation, Green Hope, which works on sustainable development, believes in engaging all sections of civil society, especially those who are marginalised, in the road to progress. With this objective , a team of three Green Hope members , comprising of its Founder President Kehkashan , Pragna and Erin ( who are in charge of Campaigns and Outreach respectively) collaborated with Cummins Middle East and travelled to Zainabad, a village on the edge of the salt pans of Rann of Kutch in Gujrat, India. They carried with them a cargo of 100 solar rechargeable lights and several cartons of books to distribute to the children of the "salt farmers".

At Zainabad, they were assisted by a prominent local business and social entrepreneur Mr Dhanraj who has established a school for the underprivileged children, including those of the salt pan workers.

The Green Hope team conducted a half day workshop at this school, spreading awareness about the sustainable development goals, the current state of the environment and the important role of young people in mitigating climate change. Thereafter they donated the books that they had carried all the way from UAE, to the school library.

Kehkashan and her team, thereafter forayed into the arid salt pans with their cargo of solar lamps. The huts of the salt farmers were spread far and wide across the vast Rann of Kutch, with each hut several kilometers away from the other. Each farmer family thus lives, works and tries to survive in isolation as they extract salt from marshes. The blistering heat of the sun and cold winds of the desert night, combined with the constant exposure to the corrosive salt make every day of their lives one of misery and a struggle to make it to the next day. Mortality is high and their children have little or no access to healthcare or education. Travelling across this harsh landscape on a SUV driven by Mr Dhanraj  , the Green Hope team went from hut to hut distributing the solar lamps. Pragna and Erin opened the packs and demonstrated to the Agarias how the lamps work on solar energy. According to Pragna "the look of pure of joy on their faces as they saw the lamps light up made our effort worthwhile".

The Green Hope team traversed several hundred square kilometres, travelling deep into the night, reaching out to a hundred huts with these lamps. Erin said "Tonight 100 huts across the Rann will light --- it is really fulfilling that we were able to bring a ray of hope to their lives".

The following day, Green Hope joined the children of the Zainabad village school to plant 25 Neem and Jetropha trees as a mark of solidarity and Climate Justice with the ongoing Climate Change Conference in Paris.

This project was Green Hope's was first step of using clean energy for the benefit of civil society and encouraged by its success , the team plans to build on it and light up the lives of all salt farmers in the Rann of Kutch.


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