Income and Education

Young children with big dreams

District: Yamuna Khader region

At 11, Soni Kumari, a student in fifth standard, has big dreams. She aspires to excel at science and mathematics and become a Flight Lieutenant in the Indian Air force. But it was difficult to get much studying done with crude mud lamps. ‘I would worry all the time that the crude mud lamp would topple over my books or fall on my younger siblings’, Soni admits. 75 lanterns were distributed as part of a Lighting a Billion Lives intervention in Delhi's Yamuna Khader region. Now Soni and her seven siblings huddle around a single solar lantern and study for almost 3 hours every evening, ‘I want to study to become a pilot and I know that I'll be successful, now that the lanterns are here’, says Soni with grim resolve.

Chanchal, another fifth standard student, is an active participant in the theater group organized by Gyan Shakti Vidyalaya. She reveals that kerosene lamps not only suffocated her five siblings and her, but also set their mosquito net on fire on several occasions. LaBL’s solar lanterns arrived in the Yamuna Khader region in time for Chanchal’s grade 10 examinations. ‘I failed my eight standard final exams and was made to re-take them, but I stood fifth in my class in the tenth standard, all because of the studying I did under the light of the solar lamps’, she states.

Admiral Harish C Malhotra, co-founder of Gyan Shakti Vidyalaya, the NGO that partnered with LaBL to distribute solar lanterns, observes that the children have realized for the first time that they have access to technology and have started dreaming big as a result. ‘Their enthusiasm towards studies, their hygiene levels and their self-esteem have all seen a very positive change,' he says.

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