Priyanka Chaturvedi

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Posts Tagged ‘India positive

Project Chirag: Lighting homes, lighting lives

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(I wrote this piece for India Youth Congress’ newsletter Yuva Desh. Here’s the link http://yuvadesh.com/mumbai-youth-light-up-village-homes/ )

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We have heard Mahatma Gandhi’s quote often ‘be the change you want to see in this world’ and how many of us have actually tried to bring about a change? We as a nation have become prone to pointing fingers at others but do precious little to bring about a change in ourselves. The Indian youth also has many a times faced flak for not participating actively in the ‘process of change’ or contributing to the society. But once you read the Project Chirag story it will not only motivate but make one believe how we can quietly bring about a change if we have the will to do so.

When some students at H.R. College sat down in their college canteen to decide on their social responsibility project, they came up with the idea of lighting up homes in rural areas.  Keeping their motto “It is not about talking, its about doing; it’s not about problems, it’s about solving them.”   firmly in mind they went about executing an idea that came up from this canteen discussion. They decided to light up 33 villages in 8 months providing light to 1000 rural houses in Maharashtra.    What started out as a small effort soon found a lot of supporters and today Project Chirag is ambitiously taking this movement into many more rural areas in the country. Project Chirag is not only conceptualized by the youth but also implemented by them at the grassroot level. Students from the age 12 upwards joined hands and pledged their vision of “Light for All”.

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How do they go about in making this change?  Project Chirag provides solar based home lighting systems to the beneficiaries of this project, those who have had no access to electricity for decades together. After successfully completing the  target of 100 rural homes in Maharashtra the students took on the challenge to light up another 1000 rural houses, and this time, in just a month and not only in Maharashtra. In just one year, students have been able to light up 68 villages impacting 2100 households across Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. Incredible isn’t it?  Their mission continues stronger than ever!  While providing solution to lightless homes they also managed to  impact 9 paraplegics, 6 deaf and mute and 10 physically handicapped individuals, each of whom have been involved in the core value chain of the project. Individuals from these communities have been involved in the assembly, quality testing and after sales service of the solar lights provided.

As Swami Vivekanda once said ‘Practical patriotism means not a mere sentiment or even emotion of love of the motherland but a passion to serve our fellow-countrymen.’ Project Chirag amplifies these words.

We witness people starting out something with a lot of enthusiasm but then slowly and surely it seems to reduce and finally on facing challenges such projects are abandoned but that was not the case with the team. When asked this question this is what the team had to say “Project Chirag is something that has grown onto each one of us team members. Though it started as an initiative to provide solar lighting to just one village, the satisfaction we achieved on being witness to the output, the sight of seeing a young child run across to his blind, but hopeful grandmother shouting out “Aaji, bijli aali”, just made us realize that this was just the beginning. And it’s no surprise that each time we reach out to even one additional household, the implications of the same leave us highly motivated.

Like any other youth involvement you can see them actively use social media to provide real time updates on their Facebook page. Their FB page tells us that they have successfully managed to cover 3383 homes in 33 villages till now.   So what’s the biggest challenge that these young people face in this project and pat came the reply from the team that initially as a group of youngsters approaching large corporate houses for funds it became difficult to be taken seriously by them but then the team chose to approach them only after having impacted the first few villages, So once the credibility was established it became a lot easier for them to convince people about their seriousness for the project. And this is how the amazing journey continues.

This is what we mean when we say never underestimate the power of the youth. Let’s not just talk but choose to do, however small a step it may seem. If you see a problem, try finding a solution rather than becoming a part of the problem. It is all about participation and contribution, what may seem like a small doable idea today could be a winning solution and change of tomorrow. So why wait for tomorrow, set out to do something for a cause you strongly feel about today! 

Written by Priyanka Chaturvedi

May 29, 2012 at 9:43 am

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