- Posted August 12, 2014 by
Journey of Light of Hope
Light of Hope draws attention by winning 3rd prize out of a total number of 816 projects in Dell Education Challenge, 2013– a global competition among university students in Austin, Texas, USA. The founding members are Bangladeshi students studying abroad and two of them returned home after finishing their studies and joined American International University-Bangladesh as faculty. They have formed a volunteer team at AIUB for developing and collecting e-education materials for Standard 1 to 5. The Light of Hope team now consists of about 30 people who are working for e-education, fund raising, training and management of the project.
LoH recently started crowd funding and so far raised USD 3000 to support its initial work on e-education material collection and development, testing of the solar system, volunteer hunt, developing training materials for the teachers. LoH already established strong collaboration with University of Flensburg, Germany, Higher Study Abroad, Bangladesh, American International University-Bangladesh, Porosmoni Somajkallan Sangstha and Swapnanagar Bidyaniketon. The project already got media attention in various countries – Bangladesh, Germany, USA etc. The project’s facebook page already has over 3500 active supporters. Several other collaborations are in the pipeline.
Light of Hope Successfully opened their first pilot school Porosmoni Bidyaniketon at a remote village in Pakundia of Kishoreganj .The school is equipped with laptops, projectors, e-materials, internet access etc.
The teachers use laptop and various e-materials during class and in the evening, students who live nearby come to the school to study under LED lights.
The story behind the project inspiration :
On February 2011, in one of Wali’s official visits to Noakhali district, in north-eastern coastal areas of Bangladesh, he met Ambia Khatun - a 42-year old woman and mother of 3 children. He was working with a NGO– which is one of the largest NGOs in the world at that time. He was attending a group meeting with 20 women about the livelihood problem that they had been facing in the community. Ambia Khatun, the leader of the group, shared her incredible story about how she was earning staying at home. Being far away from the national grid, the locality did not have access to electricity. She noticed that even though there is no electricity in the village, almost every household including her own had a mobile phone. Her husband used to take it to the market to charge it. The far-away market had a generator and the owner of the generator charged BDT 5.00 (0.07 cents) for each charge. In some of the months, they had to spend quite a lot only to keep the phone running, even more than the amount they needed to talk over the phone. She talked with her neighbors and found everybody was facing the same problem. Then she decided to buy a solar home system (SHS). She saw two-fold benefit in it. First, it would help her children to study at night. Because of the high price of kerosene they could not afford to let the children study because that burns precious fuel. Second, she could offer her neighbors to charge their phones at her house with her system at the same price that the generator owner charged.
The major difficulty she faced was to convince her day-laborer husband to invest BDT 30,000 ($375). She came into contact with Grameen Shakti, the sister concern of Grameen Foundation founded by Dr. Muhammad Younus, who sells solar home systems with monthly installment schemes. She took the risk and bought one system from them. It had already been 1.5 years after she installed the system when Wali met her. She had already paid all the installments with the help of the earnings generated by the mobile charging service and occasionally a little savings she managed from her husband’s income. She finally owned the system and was regularly earning BDT 500-600 ($6-8) per month. The impact was obvious. Each month they saved BDT 250 ($3) from kerosene consumption. Her children had more time to study at night. To make things more cherishing, her younger daughter got junior scholarship in the previous year.
Later on, Wali visited her home to see the SHS. She told him that she could earn even more if it was possible to charge more than one phone at a time. She could not charge more than 4-5 mobile phones in a day as there was only one port for charging.
On his way back home the idea struck Wali’s mind. If he could find some way to incorporate multiple mobile charging ports with this system that would significantly increase the income of such households. In the long run it would also have a greater social impact as well. And this is how the story began.
Wali shared his idea with his friends. Over the next several months, they looked for an appropriate system that might satisfy the needs. There were some other technical issues they were also looking into. The conventional solar system use acid-based heavy weight battery which needs regular maintenance and has a shorter life period. They wanted to have a smaller durable battery that doesn’t require maintenance, low energy consumption LED light and multiple mobile charging options. Finally they found a company (Trony Solar Holdings Ltd.) that had most of the required accessories that can be put together to create the system that they wanted. Over the course of next couple of months, they worked together to come up with an efficient and low-cost solar system that would serve their goal.
Wali then convinced his employer to invest some grant to test the systems in those areas. It was difficult to do that as it’s a new system and earning from the system was unsure. However, he finally did manage some money and brought 5 solar systems from Trony Solar Holdings Ltd. It was distributed among the shop owners in the markets where people mostly come to charge the mobile. Then over 4-5 months they observed the technical and financial side of the system. Technically it was more than satisfactory but earning was not as expected. In the market places people have already started to buy diesel generators and were offering services. The competition was hard. They then shifted 2 systems to the villages in people’s houses. After a month the difference for those two systems was apparent; the ones shifted to the village were earning more than the ones in the markets. The group was particularly happy with the result as they could drive into the design of the project now.
The Team Light of Hope Believe that every child is born equally; but the opportunity provided to them makes them unequal.
Contact : www.fb.com/light.of.hope.bangladesh
Website : www.lightofhopebd.org