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For the residents of Goela, an agricultural village located on the outskirts of Gurgaon, dependable electricity was a distant dream. In theory, electricity supply was provided in the village, but it was never available when most needed. The highly erratic supply, which was the case in the evenings when it was needed the most, left the people of Goela high and dry, stranded in the middle of their household chores, livelihood activities and other cultural activities. The installation of a solar charging station under a Lighting a Billion Lives initiative was a transforming turning point for the residents of Goela.
Farmers benefitted by increasing the number of hours they could work in the field and also experienced improvements in their farming activities. Vijay Pal, a veteran in the village, found his produce to be of better quality because with the lanterns they were able to ward off pests. Being smoke free and completely fire safe, the solar lamps allowed farmers to sort their produce at night and get better prices for fresher stocks in the market the next day. Farmers also saved money that was previously spent on buying kerosene for lamps.
As a village level entrepreneur managing the solar charging station, Shyamlal says, ‘I feel like I have a companion with me now, lighting every step on my way. I think this will transform everything'. His wife, Chandravati who was earlier confined to domestic chores now supports Shyamlal in running the solar charging station business, charging the lanterns and renting them out when he is working in the fields. She has also become a promoter and meets women self help groups to educate women of the village about solar lanterns, their benefits and potential livelihoods they can support.
Children also benefitted a lot by using the lamps to study an extra 2 to 3 hours in the evenings. ‘These children are inspiring others to slowly demand lanterns' adds Shyamlal. He now plans to get an additional 50 lanterns into his charging station and to rent those out to neighboring villages in the near future. Residents from other surrounding villages have also started expressing their interest in getting a solar charging station installed in their village.
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