I just returned last from Taji village in Lamjung district. This village is about 45 minutes walk from Namarkhu and even closer to Samgaredhi where I had previously distributed LED lanterns powered by solar charging stations, in conjunction with the village mother’s group. Taji has 93 households and each house got a Black Diamond donated Apollo lantern powered by any of 3 solar charging stations located in different parts of the village. Taji has no access to the electric grid although some houses have installed solar lighting. The new Apollo lanterns will give each household a portable and higher quality light.
As in previous installations, the lanterns and solar gear are donated to the village Mother’s Group, who sell the lanterns to each household for 1000 rupees and operate the solar charging stations . The 1000 rupee price paid in installments allows the villagers to make payments from the cash saved from kerosene not used in the kerosene lanterns now replaced with the vastly better Black Diamond LED lanterns. In less than a year, with no additional cash outflow, each household will own a state of the art portable LED light that provides significantly better light than the dim, polluting and expensive kerosene wick lamps they had been using. After the lantern is paid for, there will be on-going cash savings. Significantly, the Mother’s Group is empowered and strengthened with access to money and respect from the community for a facilitating a beneficial project.
Getting to this area is a challenge. Public transport requires a 5 hour minibus ride to the village of Paundi, where you hopefully can find a bus that will take you 4-5 hours on a very precipitous, rough and winding dirt road deeper into the Himalayas. From there a 3 hours walk will get you to the last stretch which is a very steep descent, invariably in the dark, to the village. I was accompanied on this trip by Ganga Gurung, who has helped facilitate and translate the lighting transfer in other villages and Nira Gurung whose parents live in the village and whose father is a retired Gurkha officer who commands significant respect in the village. Initially we had a series of meetings to explain how the system would work, responsibility of the Mother’s Group, the households, and those villagers that operate the charging stations. Topics such as finance, maintenance, warranties, responsibilities and technical details all must be carefully explained. After that, the solar charging stations are located with input from the Mother’s Group and lastly the lanterns are distributed. Invariably there is a late night singing and dancing session as a token of the village’s appreciation. Combine with the local kodo ko rakshi (distilled millet drink) a great time was had by all.
There are more photos online at www.maui2000.com/Taji. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at: silver at maui2000 dot com