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Harnessing the sun to power the future

Juman Thaimor is a fifty-eight-year old fisherman who lives in the ill-fated coastal village of Ahmed Thaimor, some 10 kilometers from Jati in Thatta.

As he sits in the glow of a recently installed solar lamp, Juman harkens back to a life full of tragedies; one dotted by natural disasters like cyclones, high tides, floods and sea storms.

The people of Ahmed Thaimor are all too familiar with tragedy– they take it as part of life. Each time their homes are struck down by disasters, they rebuild and move on.

“It feels as if we are always living on the brink of disaster. After the devastation of the 1999 cyclone and the 2011 floods, we were forced to move to safety with our families,” he recalls.

But Juman’s life was not always this transitory. Born into a well-off family, he once enjoyed a safe life with herds of animals, fertile land and green pastures all around and fresh water readily available in nearby wells and ponds.

A father to five children, two sons and three daughters, he feels that he has lost his will and has to surrender before the power of nature.

“Though I grew up here and have been seeing ups and downs since my childhood, I never thought I would live the kind of life I’m living right now,” he said.

However, despite the odds, he is adamant to not leave his ancestral home. His justification for staying true to his land comes from a strong sense of tradition, from a love for the land and a desire to pass this message on to his successors. And despite the odds, his will to empower his homeland has been aided by the introduction of solar power.

The lantern under which Juman recounted his hardships provides a place for elders, children and herders to congregate after sunset. Children run after each other, bathed in the light of the solar lamps as they play age-old games that have been enjoyed by the local youth for generations.

“Gone are the days in which children would play under the starry sky. The younger generation has beach sites where they can enjoy swimming and boat rides.”

Hailing from neighboring Haji Gul Mohammed Village, Dost Thaimor accredits the Behar Al Sindh Foundation (BASF) for installing the solar lanterns. “Since we live some 10—15 kilometers away from the government’s electricity providers, we never imagined we could have access to light.”

Dost was particularly critical of the local legislators, for whom the villagers have voted time and time again.“We know they [the local legislators] have nothing to give in return for our mandate. But because we do not have any other option we cast votes for them,” he said.

Zafar Soomro, chief executive of BASF and resident of Jati town, says his organisation has, in collaboration with USAID, benefitted residents of some 15 villages in Union Council Karmalik, all of which previously had no access to electricity.

There are some 50 community groups operating in the aforementioned localities. Each group collects Rs50 from each household for the monthly maintenance of these installations.

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