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How far away do you think is the world where there are no roads, no communication, and no lights? A dangerously beautiful world that many of us have never seen. And yet, such a world lurks incredibly close to us – its inhabitants sharing our identity as Indians.
While we crib about traffic jams or intermediate power cuts, some of our fellow countrymen dream only of a ray of light to brighten their lives after sunset. We know they exist, we blame the system, history, society, religion and move on. But the people at Further and Beyond, the organization which started The Batti Project, chose not to ignore.
A brief history of the Batti Project
Merwyn Coutinho and Rajiv Rathod reached the village of Gandhigram in Arunachal Pradesh in 2010. Gandhigram is a walk of six days from Miao. During the course of their brief stay at Gandhigram, they became friendly with the local Lisu tribe and found themselves warmly invited to the villagers’ upcoming Christmas celebrations. These people in the heart of nature were at that point living in the dark post sunset, thriving merely on wood fires when utmost required. In the Christmas of 2011, they acted on an idea and lit up 70 homes in the village using solar-powered lights. Thus, the Batti project was born.
Their tireless efforts yielded the first rays of hope when they were able to raise enough money on social media, to light up 7 homes in the Dopowa village. Since their pilot project at Dopowa, they have been surveying villages and rounding up the number of homes that need a “Batti”. They procured the required number of solar powered lighting equipment. The tougher task is, of course, to transport the procured equipment to areas that need support. The Batti brigade do that by trekking across rural India on foot, for days! That itself is an adventure.
The Batti Kit
The first Batti kit contained off-the-shelf solar powered bulbs. But as the movement grew, and gained traction, the team eliminated roles of middlemen and along with Barefoot Power, came up with the Batti kit.
The Batti kit is simple, durable and designed to fit seamlessly into the tribal lifestyle. Currently, the Batti kit comprises of:
- 1 solar panel (20 watts)
- 1 lead battery (20 Ah)
- 3 LED tubes (3 watts)
- 3 holders
- 3 switches
- 21 meters of fixed cabling (5, 7 and 9m respectively)
- 1 charge controller
The charge controller allows power to pass only when plugged in the correct sequence, thereby eliminating faulty usage. It also holds two phone charging outlets (via USB) with the required connectors for all kinds of mobile phones in the market.The total cost of procuring, transporting, distributing, installing, and verifying each kit is about Rs 10,000.
One kit can light up one home. And it’s well thought out components is easy to maintain, sustainable, and effective!
Ride to Light Cycling Challenge
Team Batti is trying to fundraise through unique ways. They collect old electronic gadgets and recycle them to make money. This money then goes towards procuring the Batti kits. The most prominent annual fundraising event is Ride to Light, in which Team Batti organizes a 10 day cycling tourism across the uncharted territories of the Himalayas. This is their second year. You can find more about Ride to Light here.
People are noticing!
A lot has been written about The Batti Project. The government of Arunachal Pradesh has declared support for this project. The first episode of Ride to Light was an encouraging success. They have been noticed by many popular media houses. But that is not nearly enough.
This Diwali light up someone’s life! Aa Gayi Batti Chaa Gayi Batti!
How much ever we talk about the great work the Batti team is doing, it is not enough. We hope to bring to you the stories of the amazing people and their extraordinary work that is lighting up lives, the stories of those who learned how to turn a light switch at the age of 73, the latest Ride to Light cycling challenge, which aims to raise funds to light up 5000 homes. And you can make it happen by donating, writing, sharing , and spreading the word. Because every time you help raise Rs 10,000, a whole family’s lives get lit up! So what are you waiting for? This Diwali, bring the joy of light in someone’s life.
Even a small donation of Rs 100 can take this project a little further. So this Diwali will you light up someone’s home? If yes, please fill up the form:
[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Amount you wish to donate’ type=’text’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Comments (if any)’ type=’textarea’/][/contact-form]
Do you have any questions, thoughts, ideas? Please write to us at email@example.com
All the pictures are sourced from the Facebook page of The Batti Project with permission.
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