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Mahtabera is a small village in rural Jharkhand. The state is mostly inhabited by tribal people who earn their livelihood through farming and cattle rearing. Other sources of livelihood include agarbatti making, leaf plate and bowl making, collecting and sorting wild medicinal herbs and other domestic activities.
Lighting a Billion Lives reached the village in July 2008. The campaign is anchored by local partner SEEDS (Socio Economic & Education Development Society), a grass roots organization with extensive experience in the field of rural management, regional planning and development, rural and community services, human resource management, and other related areas. It has been working with the community for long.
Sawri Tudu is exhilarated with the new light in her life. The light of the LaBL solar lantern which she rents each day from the nearby solar charging station has turned her nights into days. The struggle to cook in the dark amid the suffocating fumes of a kerosene lamp is now over. Sawri's day begins at 4 am— preparing lunch for her husband who leaves for work at an industrial unit in the neighboring Gamharia town. ‘Earlier I could barely see what I was grinding on the pestle stone’, says Sawri. The single kerosene lamp in the house had to be shared with her husband who got ready while she cooked. The fumes from the kerosene lamp also filled her hut with an uneasy smell.’"It's not good to inhale these fumes when the day starts. No matter where I go, what I do later in the day, I continue to have a sense of being around these fumes,’ she says. Now with the improved solar lanterns, Sawri says she can not only cook in a clean environment but also see what she's grinding or cooking and can finish her work on time.
Beje Murmu along with other women of the All Tribal Baha Self Help Group has started doing brisk business now. They are trained in making puffed cereals, pulses and groundnuts, a much sought-after readymade food snack in the tribal villages. Now, with the solar lantern they utilize their evenings optimally. They have started taking bigger orders of puffed rice for village weddings and for regular sale in villages and in nearby town of Kandra and Gamharia. Darkness is no longer a hindrance in their soaring business. Young tribal boy, Ganesh Tudu is a born artist. A high school student, in his spare time and at night Ganesh makes paintings, idols and decorative items from thermocol – all of which has become possible after the solar lighting system was introduced in his village. Ganesh has started taking local orders for creating art pieces, which are in high demand among tourists who visit the neighboring areas. Ganesh is happy that now he can study in college with the money he earns. The solar lamp has become his saviour in shaping his future.
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