Update: Donations are being accepted till November 7, 2011
Can you think of any better way to celebrate this Diwali than bring light in the lives of school going children in some of the poorest parts of the country? We couldn’t, and that’s why we decided to feature this sparkling initiative today!
Background and Need
While Right to Education Act entitles children to free and compulsory education in India, its scope is often diminished because many children do not have access to light at home to study. As many as 250 million students in India are off-the-grid and many others face severe power shortages at home. These students have no option but to rely on kerosene lamps that not only adversely affect their eyesight due to substandard light, but also expose them to noxious fumes. Kerosene lamps cause indoor air pollution, which claim the lives of 1.5 million people each year, over half of which are under the age of five (Millennium Development Goals Report 2007).
An affiliate of v-shesh, v-shesh foundation is a non-profit trust that undertakes independent work to facilitate access to opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Impact and Approach
This year in the lead up to Diwali, v-shesh foundation has identified 22 off-grid villages in Orissa (tehsil Bangomunda in district Balangir) for distribution of a clean lighting product. Bangomunda is one of the poorest tehsils in the country and lags behind on all social & economic indicators. This distribution is planned as a pilot to develop an efficient model to connect grantors to those that require socially relevant goods and services.
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After evaluating various alternatives, v-shesh Foundation zeroed-in on “Edu-Light”, a solar lamp manufactured by a social enterprise d.light that is priced at Rs 399. Edu-Light is a rugged lamp that provides portable white/ bright light for up to 4 hours with day-time charging in the sun and has been designed for use by school going children.
Solar Lamps are extremely safe and use super-bright LEDs that do not emit any pollutants. A World Bank study in Sudan found that pass rates in an entire village increased from 57 to 100 percent after students were provided with bright solar lighting.
Execution and Timelines
The program aims to reach 5000 school going children at 20 schools. With each lamp costing Rs 399, they will require a sum of Rs 1,995,000. Out of this target they have already raised funds for more than 1000 lamps. V-shesh foundation is currently in the final lag of identifying recipient schools. The selection of schools is based on conversations with local NGOs, village sarpanch and members of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan regarding electricity availability and the socio-economic context of the children, followed by visits to the school to identify recipients.
Contributions will be accepted till October 25, 2011November 7, 2011 after which v-shesh Foundation will place the order for the lamps. This will be followed by distribution of lamps up till November 10.
As an added level of transparency, v-shesh foundation will collect acknowledgements in the form of greeting cards from the direct recipients along with student’s details so that the contributor can interact with the recipient and measure the impact directly. These acknowledgements along with the receipt will be distributed to the donors by November 25.