ARCH Foundation lighten up the Mahakalinagar by installing solar panels and provided electricity to locals who were living in the darkness for the past 25 years.
“Come, come to my house!” chirped a young girl and led her to her thatched house in Mahakalinagar, lit up with one electric bulb and widest of smiles on the faces of her family members.
Nested in the city amidst tall buildings and urbanized landscapes, Mahakalinagar is a small slum with about 30 households. Inhabited since 1985, this slum had been living in darkness till 2020! Daily struggles for amenities like water and electricity, has affected the people in their livelihood activities, the worst hit, of course, the children.
In the wake of the pandemic when education has transformed to digital mediums, the basic act of studying for the children in Mahakalinagar meant spending Rs. 10/- per day for mobile charging and Rs. 60 per day for battery charging in case of frequent mobile charging, only increasing the cost of living. To meet this demand, children sold vegetables daily to earn the cost of using electricity!
“This darkness had a gendered implication as well where women and girls were affected the most. The absence of lighting meant an entire generation of young women being wiped out from the opportunities of learning and indulging in other activities”, says Nishant Shah, Director, ARCH Foundation.
Adding further he says, The fear of loitering in the darkness, the fear of eve-teasing, the fear of unknown shadows inhibited the girls from continuing the education post 6th grade. This affected the education as well as the socialization factor for women and girls where darkness inhibited them from socializing within their community itself. During one of the outreach programs of ARCH Foundations, the team stumbled upon this slum and saw darkness lurking around, with only the street lights in the vicinity. Eager to learn the reason behind the darkness, the team intervened and found out that the area was in darkness since 1985 due to no provision of any electricity facilities.
“Amenities as basic as electricity and water should be a priority for all, without this, not only livelihoods but also the holistic development of children is at stake and so at ARCH, we found a way to intervene to at least help bring the basic of basics to this community.”
To spread light, ARCH Foundation, with the help of some generous donors distributed solar panels with two electric bulbs and mobile charging points amongst all the 30 households. This activity not only lit up the entire community but also brought to light the hopes of many children to continue studying! The community is reinforced all the more to continue their livelihood activities even after dark, the children are free to study after the dusk settles in and the young girls find it easier to roam around the community happily, chirping that finally, their homes had light! Not only Mahakalinagar is lit up with lights, the hopes of the “days” getting longer and darkness getting shorter have also shot up amongst the happy community members!
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