Text by Susan Tam
Photos by Incitement
Cooking in the dark or living in total darkness may be a thing of past for over 100 Orang Asli families in Cameron Highlands — if a solar lamp project goes ahead.
Called Liter of Light, the project is in need of funds to build and install solar-powered lights for their villages, located in remote areas of the highlands.
Project member Qistina Amer told us that their improvised version of the lights make it easier for Orang Asli families to have light sources. These lights come with batteries, circuits and LED lights. The LED lights lasts for four years and are easily replaceable.
“All this while they have been using bonfires in their wooden houses as a source of light. Can you imagine a bonfire in their house?” she shares.
Cooking has to be done before sunset due to the limited supply of resources to provide light, while some families rely on kerosene lamps. These villages are located in areas that are difficult to get to, so much so that there are no proper roads to access them.
The Liter of Light team will have to travel there by four-wheel drive vehicles and even build temporary bridges to get the lights to the families.
“When night falls, it’s pitch black at these area where they live. In the past the government had supplied some these villages with solar panels, which did work but only for a short time. One or two months, maybe?” adds Qistina.
Qistina says they hope to meet their funding targets and be able to finance the installation planned for two weekends in December.
Their version of the lamps have smaller circuits and have a longer life span of four years. “This cuts down the number of maintenance visits we had to make in the past, which was once a month,” she explains.
On the project website, it explains that the villagers are trained on how to replace the lights themselves. For most of them it may be the first time they see lights without power cables and lines, so training is vital for the sustainability of this project. “The end-goal is to one day have the villagers build their own solar light, and teach other villages to do it, too.”
This light project is part of a movement called Incitement, which has establishments in over 40 countries. The aim is to encourage more young people to volunteer and to run projects that have huge impacts on the lives of underserved communities or the needy.
Incitement itself has worked with refugees, humanitarian relief work and helped the homeless community. .
Liter of Light, as explained in Incitement’s website, provides a sustainable and affordable way to provide rural communities with light at night.
The team hopes to power up another two villages by Christmas, having already done work on four this year — Kampung Lemoi, Kampung Terlimau, Kampung Orang Asli Rening and Kampung Terabit.
Having sustainable sources of light keeps the villages safe, as fewer bonfires will be lit and children can then study and do homework at night. Qistina says since the first installation in June this year, the lights have been functioning for nearly 4,000 hours to date.
“It’s a simple dream, we want to be able to light up the lives of these families by Christmas, so we hope to get more support for this,” she adds.
Those who are keen to donate to this project can find out more here.
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