They Were Left Lurking In The Dark, Until Fellow-Indians | Milaap

They Were Left Lurking In The Dark, Until Fellow-Indians Pulled Them Out

The Forgotten Village

For many years, the people of Katra lived in darkness. They worked in their fields all day, and returned to houses that had no light. Here, life once ended at sunset. After dark, mothers did not cook; children did not study; shops did not sell. They wanted to, but they could not. Unable to work or study for 6 whole hours after sunset, they could not keep up with the demands of changing times. They grew poor. They stayed trapped in their poverty.
Hidden from sight, tucked away off a small paved road in Barabanki district, Uttar Pradesh, northern India, Katra was forgotten by even the government officials who brought electricity to the district. Every year, the darkness continued. Until folks like you, Milaap lenders, stepped in, and made this difference.


How They Did It

Very recently, in April 2014, Milaap partnered with Mera Gao Power, a green energy organization that tailored its micro-grid design to specifically meet the needs of the poor. For just around Rs.50,000 (about $900), they could bring light to an entire hamlet. Each hamlet has about 30-40 families. So, this worked out way cheaper than each family and shop buying a solar lantern!
Our community of Milaap lenders enthusiastically embraced this chance to make a greater impact. The fundraising started and loans poured in. In just a few days, we had collected enough for Katra to have it’s own micro-grid a small scale electricity grid that operates independently from the main power station, completely on solar energy.One morning, 4 representatives of Mera Gao Power walked into the village. They setup the micro-grid. That same evening, the people of Katra had light! Not the faint, dirty kerosene wick lantern kind. THIS was the real deal.[gallery type="thumbnails" link="none" ids="3542,3544,4793"]

In the Short While Since...

The people of Katra have grabbed at the possibilities their newly lit nights have brought them. The women of Katra now spend their days at work. No more rushing home way before sunset to wrap up their chores.

By the light of her bright new solar-powered light, this mother can cook in the evenings. No more tearing up under dim lamps, no more choking on kerosene fumes. Chores wrapped up, she can even continue working till bedtime.The mothers of Katra are happy women indeed!05_2013.meragao.kvaid-7-2And so are their children. No more skipping homework. No more rushing to help their mothers beat the hour of darkness. There’s time to play. To study. To dream.By the light of their new lamps, children like this boy now study hard every evening, into the night, eager to have an education and have a better future.06_2013.meragao.kvaid-12The efforts of these children will not be in vain. Their parents can now earn more - enough to keep them in school, and maybe even put them through public college. Their mothers are working more, and so are their fathers. The light allows them to extend business hours.Those travelling outside the hamlet can return home later. So they have already begun to work longer hours, earn more, and spend more locally on essentials like food.These farmers can now sell their grain and lentils in the evenings. Produce that would have sold over a month, now sells sooner. Their incomes have increased. The extra money goes towards savings for their children, to buy better fertilizer for their crops, and to increase their inventory.[gallery type="thumbnails" link="none" ids="3551,3545,4792"]The power-supply also brings them a sense of security - there is no longer a fear of intruders. Since the grid also provides mobile charging facilities, help can be a phone-call away.Katra’s young fruit-seller now has his shop open in the evenings. Without the darkness, he has no fear of thieves. He knows his young family is safe at home - they can call his cell phone in an emergency. And he can count on the extra hours to earn a little more for them. Coming from a village that has begun its escape from poverty, “Every rupee counts,” he says. His family, like all the others in Katra, gratefully saves an extra small, yet princely (to them), sum each month - from no longer having to spend on kerosene for their old lamps.It is not just the young who have benefited. This elderly man, no longer able to till the fields, now has a snack shop running in the evenings. The money earned is saved for his old age and medical expenses. And he hopes it will grow into a modest little legacy that he can leave for his grandchildren. “For college,” he hopes.Communities across India are still seeking help for light. Solar lighting can transform their lives. It can give them a chance to realize their hopes, as it did for the families of Katra village. YOU can be the one to bring them light![gallery type="thumbnails" link="none" ids="3544,3543,3548"]

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