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Bosco Reach Out distributes Solar Lanterns to the villagers of Assam

By Father Bivan R. Mukhim
Guwahati, Feb. 13. Bosco Reach Out, the social development office of Salesian Province of Guwahati decided to adopt several villages in the state of Assam and distribute hi-tech solar lamps to the villagers not only to dispel darkness but also as a tool to achieve 100 per cent literacy, economic well-being, good health and connectivity. A solar energy project of a civil society organization promises to bring sunshine in the live of several villagers of Assam through multiple benefits.
''We distributed 157 solar lanterns in two non-electrified villages in Rongjuli block of Goalpara district of Assam on 3 February as the first phase of the project. Next, we will distribute the lamps among 1,000 families in 19 villages in Baksa and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam. Bosco Reach Out will not just confine itself to distribution of solar lamps but use it as tool to achieve literacy, connectivity and ensure health for poor villagers,'' Father K.J. Thomas, executive director of BRO and the economer of the province said.

Father Joseph Teron, associate director, said many villagers wished to read and write but could not do so because of non-availability of electricity. Citing an example, he said in Rongjuli block many children cannot go to school during daytime as they must work for a livelihood. But they can do so in the evening, darkness being the only constraint. ''Since villagers at Rongjuli are now equipped with solar lamps, we will also impart lessons to them,'' Father Teron said.

Solar lamps will also help poor villagers save the money used to purchase kerosene and help them earn extra by working at night. ''Modern research has found that kerosene wick lamps release 20 times more black carbon than previously thought. Black carbon is a hazard for human health and the environment, affecting air quality both indoors and outdoors. We will try it to sensitize villagers about the ill-effects of kerosene lamps and motivate them to use solar ones'', Father Teron said.

The solar lamps distributed by Bosco Reach Out are also equipped with mobile chargers. Father Teron said since villages' do not have electricity, they have to come to Goalpara town to charge their cell phones which makes life difficult for them. ''Mobile phones are of no use to many villagers because of lack of power connection. They can now use the solar lamps to charge their phones. This will improve their connectivity.''

The programme has been supported by IIFC (Indian Infrastructure Financial Ltd), SECI (Solar Energy Corporation of India), New Delhi and AEDA (Assam Energy Development Agency), Guwahati.
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