In India, several cities and towns are so lit up at night that they can be seen shining from space, but on the flip side there are large parts of the country that plummet into darkness. Two such districts are South 24 Paraganas and Uttar Dinajpur in West Bengal. These rural communities are primarily dependent on agriculture and a lot of them are traditional weavers.
As villages in these districts barely see any electricity (atleast 3-4 hour power cuts a day), life is full of struggles. The most discernible of these include their inability to cook food post sunset, children having to finish up with their studies before 5 in the evening, hawkers packing up and the high expenditure on kerosene lamps. The lesser obvious ones include wild animals entering the village causing havoc and the sick not getting proper treatment due to lack of visibility.
Against such a backdrop, a lot of these families are engaged in the dying tradition of ‘Zari’ work, upholding the centuries’ old weaving culture. It is almost ironic that a community which does not see light for most part of the day should be involved in work that is so intricate in nature!
Milaap’s partnership with DCBS makes solar lighting affordable and available to rural households in West Bengal. Through the current project, 526 families will gain access to a clean and efficient source of lighting- solar lanterns and help them overcome some of their current struggles.