BENGALURU: Bengaluru-based NGO, the Happy Light Project Foundation (HLPF), is lighting up the lives of residents of Gotiguda, a small village in Odisha’s Raygada district. These villagers, who depend on Dokhra metal crafts for their livelihood, were living without electricity and were therefore unable to fashion enough products to make ends meet.
Founded by Calvin Pinto, Philip Thomas and M Kishan, with backgrounds in commerce mostly, the NGO set up a crowdfunding project on October 15, 2016 to bring electricity to Gotiguda. Now, the NGO has raised `7,61,455 from 401 supporters in a month, along with an additional Rs 30,000 as offline contributions. With this, they completed the project keeping the environment in mind, because they have relied on solar power only.
Speaking to City Express, Calvin, one of the three founders, says, “We’re happy to share that the village of Gotiguda is now completely electrified.”
But why this particular village, one may wonder. Calvin says, “After much research and talking to experts, we realised that Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan were states that were most in need of rural electrification. We zeroed in on Odisha because while there were several organisations working in other states, Odisha had largely gone unnoticed.”
He adds that with the help of their partner, Mahahshakti Foundation, HLPF shortlisted three villages in Odisha, visited each and spoke to villagers. They finally selected Gotiguda because they felt that they could create the maximum, long-term impact there.
Apart from the Mahashakti Foundation, The Energy and Resources Insititute (TERI) was also involved in the project. “TERI mentored us through the entire project - from operations to system design. Their expertise in solar energy systems helped us,” says Calvin.
With little to no prior experience in the fields of alternative energy resources or social work, the founders say they spent a lot of time in study. They also have day jobs, which they did not neglect. “Balancing both our day jobs and the project has been challenging,” says Calvin.
“Philip works at a boutique investment bank, I work at a start-up and Kishan works in brand consulting, so long days at work are not uncommon. However, we were determined to see this project through. We made sure to spend an hour or two on the project each day either before or after office.”
Talking about future plans and projects, Calvin says, “We are exploring a micro-finance-based solar irrigation project next. However, we are still at the initial stages and are researching the space. Our main focus is still ensuring that the solar micro-grid in Gotiguda runs flawlessly.”