100% Funded by an ENVIRON Foundation award. From Jan 2010.
Light4Life is harnesssing clean, sustainable energy, to transform a rural school building into a communal and commercial hub. A new 2.2kW solar installation, on top of the refurbished structure, is bringing power, communications, and opportunities to the people of Dhawa, for the first time.
Enginners lift PhotoVoltaic panels into position on top of Shree Prabhat school in Dhawa, July 2010.
Light4Life aims to make the school self sufficient - and the focus of village life – so it can be treasured and maintained, long after we depart. It's part of a 360 degree approach to working with rural communities below the poverty line and is a key component of our wider goal to foster sustainable commerce in remote areas.
The project is already bringing new income opportunities to the school, and to the villagers, leading to small but vital improvements in living standards.
Reliable, clean energy also removes the communities reliance on kerosene and battery lighting - for anyone needing to work or study in the evening - with the consequent benefits to both health and environment.
The lighting itself uses hardly any power, after a donation of remarkable LED lamps from world leader LEMNIS LIGHTING. This leaves the maximum amount free for commercial and civic use and to power computers and peripherals.
Training opportunities have also transformed with adult literacy and numeracy classes happening in the evenings throughout 2011 and 2012 - with hundreds of villagers attending.
Shree Prabhat Secondary School has been able to expand into Shree Prabhat Higher Secondary, allowing local children to study to 18, instead of 16. Before new classrooms came online in 2012, the lighting enabled early morning classes - so 17 and 18 yr olds could begin school in summer at 4am (when everyone gets up) and finish at 9am, giving them the rest of the day to study, play, work the fields, or use the new library and computer room.
Light4Life's largest impact has perhaps been to power the village's first computers, made possible through a partnership with visionary low power computer company ALEUTIA. The new school Library and computer room have proven so popular, we've had to increase the opening hours and open early mornings and late evenings, which (again) would have been inconceivable before.
As internet access arrives in 2012, a major technical challenge made possible only by a further partnership with Nepali internet pioneer Mahabir Pun, we're seeing an increase in income generating opportunities for both school and villagers. Alongside that is a measureable improvement in health and wellbeing, and a reduction in environmental pollution, village wide. We hope, it will provide a model for replication in rural schools throughout the region.
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