A Dubai-based youth group called Green Hope has brought a ray of hope in the lives of marginalized labourers in the economically backward region of the Rann of Kutch in the Indian state of Gujarat.

The group – which supports sustainable development engaging the marginalized in society – distributed 100 solar rechargeable lights and several cartons of books to distribute to the children of the ‘salt farmers’ in the area.

Why the Rann of Kutch? ‘It’s a vast, barren land of salt marshes with very little vegetation and means of subsistence,’ says Kehkashan Basu, student and founder – president of Green Hope. ‘It is one of the major sources of salt globally. Temperatures are above 50 degrees Centigrade during the day, while the nights are bitterly cold. The migrant labourers who work here, the ‘Agarias’, toil in pitiful conditions to manually extract salt from the sea water. They live in temporary shelters with no electricity and trek on barefoot across this vast wilderness in search of work.’

So, Green Hope collaborated with Cummins Middle East to provide the solar lamps and books to this marginalized community in Zainabad, a village on the edge of the salt pans. A local business and social entrepreneur, Dhanraj, who’s established a school for their underprivileged children, facilitated the distribution. Kehkashan was assisted by Green Hope members Pragna and Erin.

 

The Green Hope team also conducted a half-day workshop at this school , spreading awareness about the sustainable development goals, the current state of the environment and the important role of the youth in mitigating climate change. The books were donated to the school library.

They also joined the children of the Zainabad village school in planting 25 Neem and Jetropha trees as a mark of solidarity with the then ongoing Climate Change Conference in Paris.

What struck the Green Hope members was the pure joy that the solar lamps brought to the Agarias. ‘The look on their faces as they saw the lamps light up made our effort worthwhile,’ says Pragna.

‘Now a 100 huts across the Rann lights up every night,’ says Erin. ‘It is really fulfilling that we were able to bring a ray of hope to their lives.’