Leaving your hometown for higher studies and a job that you always dreamt of doing, does not have to mean that you forget your roots. A couple from Tamil Nadu is an excellent example of how one can amplify their personal successes by helping those in need, and inspire several lives at once!
Dr Nachiappan Narayanan and his wife, Shanthi, live a comfortable life in New Jersey, USA. Dr Nachi comes from the Kandramanickam village in Tamil Nadu. He was awarded a scholarship to pursue his masters in the USA and has been living there ever since.
Speaking to The Better India, Dr Nachi said, “I grew up in Kandramanickam village and studied at the local high school. In 1986, I was selected by the Rotary International for the Freedom From Hunger scholarship to pursue a Masters Degree at the University of Illinois, USA. I went on to complete a PhD in Information Systems and worked with Virginia Tech and HSBC for 15 years.”
Later, he started his own business at the Montessori Academy and Learning Centre working alongside his wife, Shanthi.
Even with a comfortable life in the USA, the couple has made sure they are connected to their roots and ensure that they return to their village, every year.
During their trips, they would observe the issues being faced by the people living there and gradually started to wonder if there was anything they could do to help.
“Rather than asking what the country/village had done for me, I wanted to ask what have I done for the country/village. With this objective in mind, I was thinking about new and innovative projects that we could take up not only in my village but a cluster of villages,” Dr Nachi told TBI.
Soon he came with the perfect plan.
Many villages in Tamil Nadu face severe power cuts, and the villagers have to live without electricity for hours on end.
On the other hand, the state has abundant sunshine throughout the year. Therefore, the installation of solar plants in such villages is the most obvious solution to overcome the issue.
“We started helping in a small way such as building bus shelters, providing a building for the office of the electricity board, conducting eye camps and several temple projects,” Dr Nachi told TBI. “Then the solar project came to my mind. With the availability of abundant sunlight and frequent power cuts, the project fit my objective of innovation, and we started a Trust called the Solar Village Foundation (SVF) in India.”
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Soon the couple, along with other donors of the Trust, started to provide solar solutions in selected villages. They began by installing solar lights and at the request of donors, solar power plants at temples. They even conducted camps, with solar dealers and universities to discuss the benefits of solar energy with local villagers. So far, the couple has successfully installed 25 solar street lights and two solar power plants.
In fact, an experience that the team and the villagers had, proved to them how solar lamps would be a boon.
“A day after the 25 lights were installed, a temple consecration was scheduled to be held. However, there was a power cut for 3 hours in the night time one day before the main function. During this important day, even with the power cut, our solar street lights provided ample lighting and people were able to move around freely. This was well appreciated by all villagers!”
With time and more support, Dr Nachi and Shanthi hope to empower more villages in Tamil Nadu with solar energy. The next project on their agenda is a Solar Smart Class which includes one LCD with educational content, training for teachers and the maintenance of the class for five years.
In total, the project will cost about Rs 1 lakh and half of the cost will be considered by Selco foundation. If you wish to help Dr Nachi in his pursuit, you can donate on their website here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)