A long drive west of Kathmandu that takes more than 24 hours leads you to the Dailekh District headquarters. A 17-kilometers walk that can take up to another five to seven hours, and you reach Chauratha, a VDC in Dailekh that was, until today, living in total darkness, both figuratively and literally. But it is now in the process of being lit, electrically, with the help from the sun and a young group of friends which included me, too. We call ourselves Nature Lovers.
Running around to get generous enough sponsors to support the entire project which we had christened ‘Chauratha Ujyalo Abhiyan’ was certainly not a child’s play. It meant leaving all those important lessons at school and we all know how demanding studies are these days. However, we, the students from Budhanilkantha School, contributed some fraction of our precious time and came up with such an idea of sheer social service with intentions of sustainable development.
The idea of donating solar home lighting system was born while I was in a cubicle one night when the lights were out due to load shedding. In my mind, a thought, or rather a passion, to do something in the rural part of the country for the betterment of the people living there cropped up and this was the bright idea!
I thought about my village which was living in darkness. I thought about all my family and friends and neighbors who were living on tukki lights which were certainly not much of a help. People have to depend on fire for their livelihood during nights. Candles and tukki batti didn’t help much, and students couldn’t study properly.
Conducting this project could mean everything to those poor Chauratha dwellers. It meant an end of all those seemingly everlasting dark days. It would mean that people would not suffer from bronchitis and cancer due to the smoke from fire. It would mean young kids would be able to study properly. It could mean many other things as well.
Furthermore, this project was environment conscious, based on the use of the ultimate power source – the sun – without harming Nature.
I then talked to my friends about forming a dedicated group to conduct this project. They were all positive. We registered the group as a club in the school as ‘Nature Lovers.’ On August 15, 2012, we organized an interaction program chaired by UCPN-Maoist Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) at the Nepal Tourism Board about the program. Though we received media attention, which was very mild due to the press being more concerned about politics and Prachanda than the program itself, it didn’t much help to generate fund. The group felt hopeless.
However, we were lucky as SR Drugs generously helped us with the hefty sum of Rs 60,000, and this gave life to a nearly dead project. After the help, fund gradually started flowing in.
We reached Chauratha on November 2, 2012 with the system which we received as help from Suryodaya Uraja Pvt. Ltd. of Dhapasi in Kathmandu, for 30 homes.
Chauratha, a VDC with 375 homes of which 300 homes now have already received the system and installed it. The system supports three small tube lights of 6W each which is enough for a village household. Womenfolk can cook in the kitchen while children can study in their room.
Moreover, the government of Nepal also currently has a system of providing subsidies to those homes in rural villages which have solar power system installed. This will also help the people in Chauratha to upgrade their living standard. They no longer have to live in the dark.
The writer is a student of Budhanilkantha School.