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Income and Education
Vijay Kumar is a 35 year old teacher from Paharpur village in the Nawada District of Bihar. He lives in a joint family with his wife, four children and the families of his brother and cousins. A graduate by qualification, Vijay teaches in the district’s senior secondary school, attended by more than 500 children from Paharpur and other nearby villages. Besides the income earned from his teaching job, other members of the family contribute to the family income by working as agricultural labour.
When a solar charging station was installed in Paharpur in 2012, the village unanimously nominated Vijay to run the station. Vijay put in place a meticulous process to operate the station including, cleaning the lanterns each day before renting them out, maintaining systematic records and problem solving. He also provided lanterns free of cost to people who were not able to afford the rent or found it difficult to cover expenses during social events like weddings.
As a ‘village level entrepreneur’, Vijay’s income has increased incrementally by fifteen hundred rupees. But as a teacher, the most important benefit for Vijay has been the ability to teach children at home in the evenings. Vijay uses two or three lanterns to teach a group of ten to fifteen students from 7pm to 9pm and charges the students a nominal fee to cover the expenses of running the lanterns.
Vijay takes immense pride in his role as the village level entrepreneur as he finds that the community has been very happy with the intervention. They no longer have to endure the hazardous smoke of kerosene lamps and children in particular feel elated to see the light of Solar Lantern and look forward to studying by it. Vijay says that the biggest achievement is that the girls in the village feel much safer now. They attend school in the afternoon and complete their homework in the evening by the light of Solar Lanterns. In fact from most of the homes in the village, it is the girls who come to collect the Solar Lanterns in the evening.
A dynamic person with strong perceptions, Vijay recognizes the Solar Lantern to be an important agent of change and a first step in making the lives of his fellow villagers better and brighter. He feels proud to have been given the opportunity to spearhead this mission.
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