With the agenda of providing education in remote and marginalized communities in some of the world’s poorest regions, United World Schools (UWS) has been operating in Myanmar since 2013. In January, 2020, as a member of UWS, I got an opportunity to spend time with children and families of the marginalized Lahu tribe in Wan Kaung village in Shan State. My belief in the core values promoted by the UWS program grew even stronger after this visit. Without electricity, these children are left to study with candles or kerosene lamps, exposing them to fire hazards and toxic fumes. Realizing that the access to electricity in this area is poor and intermittent, I started an initiative “Enlightening Minds and Illuminating Lives” in April, 2020.
In December, 2020, I consulted with Yoma Mandalay, the leading experts of solar energy in Myanmar. They were kind to help guide me towards the right solar alternative SHS (Solar Home Systems). However, due to the pandemic, it was not a viable solution as it required SHS to be fitted into individual homes which would incur labor and overhead costs increasing the project cost price.
During my research I came across another company called GRID (Grassroots and Rural Innovative Development) in Delhi, India who provided solar lanterns as the easiest, portable and most affordable solution to circumvent the lack of energy access. I got in touch with their expert consultant, and together we started working on a detailed project report including the model of the solar lamp, evaluation plans and cost of overhead.
In June, 2021, with the aim of raising $3000 for 50 solar lamps, I kickstarted the fund raiser with a modest $200 that I was awarded for the “SDG & Me” United Nations youth competition. I first spread awareness about this program in India and through the Ketto platform was able to raise $1,400. In August, 2021, I brought the fundraiser campaign to Myanmar and within six weeks I was able to raise another $1,240. Throughout my endeavor my parents have been a huge support and they donated the rest of the money to complete my fundraising goal.
The entire amount was duly debited to the concerned authority and on 13th November the solar lamps finally made their journey from Lucknow, India to Yangon. Since the time of its conception in April, 2020 to the final procurement in November, 2021, it has been a long wait of a year and 8 months. I am very thrilled to report that these clean solar lamps will help in achieving some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including clean energy for all, zero poverty, good health and well-being, gender equality AND quality education for all.
As Chinthes, our mission is to be compassionate global citizens who are a force for positive change in the world. I now look forward to handing over these important solar lamps to the Wan Kaung community and doing my own part to keep our mission alive and well.
By Mahika(Grade 12)
Published by Global