Wednesday 17 September 2014

Diary of hope: Distant Flickers in the dark

As I sit here typing out this article on my laptop, I plug in my charger and switch on the light. I mindlessly use what is luxury to many in most parts of India- Electricity. This other side of India is almost unheard of, forgotten both intentionally and accidentally. This other side is what forms the backbone of the Indian economy. And yet any plans of development are discarded into the shredder. As a result, today many Indian villages are deprived of the most basic amenities. 

In pursuit of making a change through the International Award for Young People programme, the students of Singapore International School (Grade 11) decide to do reach out and teach ourselves the way to look at the world differently. Last year, the students from SIS had built a water pipeline for the Konda village. This time around, after much discussion and deliberation, the students decided to light up the lives of the villagers of Irshalwadi. Hence, Grade-11 students trekked to the village of Irshalwadi located near Prabalgad and Matheran to collaborate with the villagers install solar panels. Located about 3700 feet above sea level, the village of Irshalwadi faces daily challenges in terms of electricity, water and transport. In a quest to minimise these difficulties, students of SIS assisted the villagers in illuminating every home, hence bringing light to over forty families.

During the course of this visit, our interactions and conversations with these villagers gave us an insight into their lives and instilled in us respect for them thanks to their amazing resilience. As each day drew to a close, both the villagers and the students had more lights to switch off before retiring for the day. And by the end of our stay, torches were of no use, every home in the village blazed of bright white light. 

In this five-day expedition, the students were divided in three groups: cooking, solar panel installation and reservoir construction. While the solar panel installation group went around inserting solar panels atop each roof, the reservoir construction group built an embankment and lined it with bricks and stones to form a drinking water accumulation site near the fresh water spring.After a week of immense hard work, effortless collaboration and living with the most basic facilities, every home boasted of a light source and the village finally had a clean water reservoir. As the project came to a finish, both the students and villagers were filled with joy and pride at what they had finally accomplished. 

We took part in the adventure of knowing and understanding the rubric of combined efforts and hard work. Today, the village of Irshalwadi shines at the darkest of times. Now, every child can study in the dark, men can work into the night and dinner can be cooked easily.

This expedition compelled us to retrospect and analyze the sheer magnitude and importance of what we had just accomplished. The implementation of community service has the capacity to transform an entire nation. Why not my nation? Every blazing fire needs a tiny spark to begin with or to initiate. And we had done just that by lighting up portions of the village of Irshalwadi. 

All reforms begin with what seems like to be a trivial change.And we’ve got several people to thank for the opportunity to trigger this seemingly insignificant but a significant drop in the ocean. Hence, I would like to thank the Head of School Mrs. Sharonee Mullick, Project Coordinator Mr. Uday Verma and Round Square Coordinator Mrs. Shibani Das for encouraging us to tap our inner reserves and understand the joy of collaborating. Taking part as an agent of change, for that one light, in this one life and taking one abode at a time.

-Megha Thakker
Gold Award Participant
Singapore International School
Grade 11

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