Lack of electricity has left the villagers of Gotiguda, a small village in Odisha, in poverty. The villagers are highly skilled craftsmen who depend on Dokhra metal crafts for their livelihood. However, without electricity and lighting, they are unable to produce enough craft work and thus struggle to make ends meet.
Access to electricity can transform their lives. They will be able to work longer, produce more and thus earn more. Electricity would also help improve the quality of their lives. The villagers of Gotiguda are hardworking and willing to put in the effort to achieve a better life. All they need is the opportunity.
In comes the Happy Light Project founded by a group of young professionals — Calvin Pinto, Philip Thomas and Kishan Madhavan — with backgrounds in e-commerce, investment banking and branding. They are working towards giving the villagers of Gotiguda the opportunity they deserve. They have launched a crowdfunding campaign on www.ket.to/happylight/ to raise funds for the project. The funds raised will be used to set-up a solar micro-grid, provide lights and supply a polishing machine. The solution is built on community involvement and is designed to be a long-term, self-sustaining solution.
To ensure the project’s operational success, they have tied up with two highly credible, leading NGOs — the Mahashakti Foundation, who will manage on-ground operations, and TERI who will help with technical mentorship.
We will be setting up a solar microgrid system and lighting solutions which will help the villagers increase their working hours. Better lighting will also help them work on the fine designs more easily. We will also be providing them with one metal polishing machine which will help them create the finished products and therefore earn more.
The solution will lead to the following benefits:
1. Increased working hours and product quality leading to increased earnings
2. Reduced expenditure on kerosene leading to savings.
3. Electricity and lighting will enable their children to study longer and the lighting makes cooking easier and safer.
4. Improved health as the reduced kerosene consumption reduces smoke.
5. It will slow down the migration of the villagers youngsters who are unable to work on the crafts and thus migrate to other states to work as labourers.
This is not meant to be a stop gap solution. Nor is it a handout.
1. The project team (Happy Light Project Foundation, Mahashakti Foundation and TERI) will set-up a solar energy micro-grid in Gotiguda. They will also supply a polishing machine.
2. The ownership of the villagers in the project is important to ensure that the project is self-sustaining. The villagers are keen to play a role in their upliftment and have agreed to pay a token amount per household and will be providing community land for the micro-grid.
3. A village rural electrification committee will be set-up consisting of members selected by the villagers among themselves. The village electrification committee members will be trained on operating the grid and minor maintenance that may arise.
4. The committee members will collect a weekly electricity charge each household and deposit it into a bank account created in the committee’s name. The charge collected will be lower than the amount usually spent on kerosene. This along with the increased income from the sale of product will ensure that the charge is not a burden.
5. The fund so created will grow over time and will be used for minor repairs charges if necessary, for replacing the battery after 5 years and eventually replacing the entire microgrid after its life of 25 years.
Thus the solution is built to be self-sustaining. A few electricians from nearby more developed villages will be trained to assist with basic solar micro-grid repairs and servicing.
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