June 7, 2016
Students from Agara and the villages surrounding it are usually up at the crack of dawn milking the cows or working in the fields. Then, they spend all day in school. When they get back from school in the afternoon, they must make use of all the daylight they have left to work in the fields. Finally, when it gets dark, they have little to no electricity to study or do their homework. As a result, they often have to use candles (which are extremely expensive) or kerosene lamps.
In July of 2016, Team LINC (Pallavi, Shreya, Purvi, Shweta, and Shivani) will be travelling to Agara, a small village in South India near the city of Bangalore. There, we will be donating 100 solar lights to students in grades 9-12. This is a continuation of a project started in 2012 by one of our members, Pallavi Rajan. She became a Global Ambassador for a nonprofit organization called One Million Lights when she was twelve years old, and donated 100 lanterns to various schools in Agara (see her story story below). This year, we want to continue that task by revisiting those same schools and gauging the impact that the lights had. In addition, we will be donating a few tablets to the schools, as well as conducting a few workshops to teach these students basic programs and websites they can access in order to enhance their high school education.
Please consider donating a $15 light today!
One Million Lights’ youngest ambassador delivers 100 lights all the way from California to students in India.
On Tuesday, we went to Agara for the first time this year. I was really excited, since I had fund raised every dollar I needed to for the project. I talked to the principal (of Pet’s Higher Primary School), who was very helpful and agreeable. Then, I talked to all the students, and told them why I was there. I had decided on donating solar lights to middle school kids (grades 5 to 7); since older and younger siblings could benefit, but that was the only part of my plan that stayed consistent.
My original plan was to donate solar lanterns to 5 students from each class, the ones who were doing the best in terms of schoolwork. Then one day, my dad and I were talking, and we realized that maybe a student isn’t getting good grades because they don’t have a sufficient light source. But I didn’t want to give it to the 5 students with the worst grades, because that could be because of a different reason, such as lack of interest in school or not enough support from home. Eventually, we realized that there were a lot of things either wrong with this plan, or that we didn’t have enough information about.
My mom was born in Agara. We visited Agara last year, and I could tell that it was pretty well off, compared to surrounding villages. Agara is like the “rich” hub, so parents send their kids there for school. My final plan was to interview the kids from these surrounding villages, and later decide which of them the light would be most helpful to. But I decided to be flexible all the way, just in case.
When we got there, it turned out that there were only 45 students in the entire middle school. I decided to give lights to all of them on the spot, since they all looked so hopeful and excited. But I still needed to interview them for this blog. My sister Purvi and cousin Shreya also interviewed people with me, while my other cousin Shweta took pictures of each kid. Here are the 5 questions we asked them:
1. What is your name? What grade are you in?
2. Is anyone from your family currently enrolled in this school?
3. Do you do any work at home in the dark (go to the store, milk the cow, bring water, etc.)
4. Do you get electricity in your house? Where do you get light when it fails?
5. If you had this solar light, what would you do with it? How would it help your family and household?
Most of the students’ last three answers were the same: Homework in the dark; yes electricity, candle or oil lamp when it fails; study, read, and write with the solar light.