Dubai: On most maps you would really struggle to find Zainabad. However, 100 underprivileged children who never saw electricity in the little-known village in the remote salt pans of Gujarat in India are now able to study at night thanks to three young UAE conservationists.
Indian students Kehkashan Basu, 15, Pragna Vasupal, 14, and Erin Isabel Anand, 13, who flew to Ahmedabad last weekend to make the 100km drive north west, off the district of Kutch, to distribute solar rechargeable lamps, say their small impact on the lives of many was heartening to see.
“Most villagers are migrant labourers who live in huts and hardly use electricity, but after we taught them how to use the lights, their children - some of whom attend school - can now study even after dusk,” said Basu, a year 10 student of Deira International School who has addressed over 70 UN and other global conferences on conservation and the green economy including last month’s Annual Youth Summit of the World Bank in Washington DC.
“The Rann of Kutch is one of the most desolate and arid places in the world, but its vast, barren land of salt marshes are home to migrant labourers who toil in pitiful conditions to manually extract salt through natural evaporation of the seawater. They often live in temporary shelters with no electricity. What makes us a happier lot is to see that we are able to empower them in some way,” added Basu who made the trip as the founder president of Green Hope UAE, a youth organisation she says is dedicated to sustainable development while engaging especially the marginalised sections of the society.
“We travelled to Zainabad with purely this objective in mind, carrying a cargo of 100 solar rechargeable lights and several cartons of books for distribution amongst children of these salt farmers,” said Vasupal, 14, a ninth grader at Our Own English High school, Sharjah.
“The best part of the trip was when we went from hut to hut distributing the solar lamps. The huts of the salt farmers were spread far and wide across the vast Rann of Kutch, but we loved the process of reaching out to them,” said Isabel Anand, an year 8 student of Cambridge International School and the outreach officer of Green Hope. “The look of pure joy on their faces as they saw the lamps light up made our effort worthwhile.”
The three distributed the lamps in collaboration with a UAE unit of a global designer and manufacturer of power generation equipment and power systems.