Find Project Chirag online
Twitter – @projectchirag
If you are based in India representing another university either in Maharashtra or any other state in India and like what you read and want to find out more or start a project Chirag branch where you are, let me know and I will put you in touch with the team.
First day in India, first project!
After 4 hours sleep, I was up. A good friend Paras – who I met through One Young World – and I met up with his friend and a couple of others for a 2 and a half hour drive to visit a project they were all involved in called Project Chirag.
Project Chirag – a student run not-for-profit in association with SIFE (recently changed to http://enactus.org/) is predominantly based in Maharashtra (the state in West India which surrounds Mumbai: see map below) but, after just over a year of being up and running properly is now also in Rajasthan (although not to the same scale). To date it has already provided lighting packages (two lights per house) to 4,020 houses in 106 villages effecting over 22,000 people and it is looking to expand constantly and also move into some of the various slums in and around india, with trials taking place in and around Mumbai at the moment.
Not only is it simple and effective it’s also cheap.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
They (depending on incoming sponsorship/donations and fundraising initiatives etc) produce packages of 2 solar powered lights per household which vary in price based on which state of India they’re in.
Above picture shows the two type of lights being installed in rural houses!
In Rajasthan it’s 2800 rupees to make – about 32 pounds. These are factory (machine) made.
In Maharashtra though, the cost for a handheld/portable light and a ceiling light (made up of three LED’s) costs 4,000 rupees, which in English translates to 45 pounds.
This price includes transport/installation costs; payment for the lights; impact assessments and a wage to the employees (which is 1,440R, 440R higher than the national average), whilst they also offer a three year warranty to all of those who get the lights installed in their houses.
Project Chirag makes an effort to employ as many differently-abled young adults too, with most of the employees being deaf or mute as opportunities are harder to come by for them and Project Chirag also partner with a school for children who are differently abled.
They also supply, for 17,000 rupees (roughly 195 pounds), powerful street lamps to light up villages.
One of the street lamps in the centre of one of the villages
Find photo’s of the project here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.485741374811328.125206.470577246327741&type=1
THE BENEFITS OF LIGHT
The benefits are ten-fold.
Firstly, lighting improves the ability for the farmers to farm and attend to their crops at all hours, increasing the chance of maintaining their crops and increasing the amount they produce (wheat/rice etc) which allows for better nutrition for their families and a better level of income for the family.
The lights also allow for children to do their homework, and get better grades. On average before the lights are introduced 1 or two children out of 7 would get the necessary 35-40% pass mark required to go up the year. Now, on average 5 out of 7 pass with over that mark.
Street Lamps allow for community gatherings, increasing discussions on local issues and inter-connectivity between the villages and allowing for other social gatherings to go on longer.
They provide security for the villages.
Better overall health as they’re no longer using kerosine lamps, the oil of which would often find itself being swallowed by the children in the village.
The villagers have started adapting the power source to charge mobile phones and also power up fm radios.
More money goes to the families as, not only are the lights under a 3 year warranty to start with, they are solar powered and so less money is spent on buying kerosine and repairs are infrequent.
As a result this is also improving community and inter-village relationships, bringing a much more dynamic and tolerant way of life to the rural areas.
It’s a great start and an integral aspect of initial development of any developing village along with a good water supply and whilst still in its relative infancy as a project, It is still extremely impressive to me that students of which the oldest is 24 have made such a significant impact in such a short timeframe to so many lives and have momentum fully behind them, recently being published nationally in one of India’s leading national newspapers.