Students light up lives this Diwali

Anjali Lukose

Mumbai, Nov. 5 -- To brighten Diwali for villagers in Thane district, volunteers of Project Chirag from HR College, Churchgate, will provide solar lights to 10-15 villages during the Diwali holidays. This activity will add to the list of 4,000 households in 102 villages, across Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Karnataka, which have already benefitted from the project. Financial literacy is also a major part of this initiative, where volunteers will educate villagers on budgeting and financial planning.

In another endeavour to light up people's houses for Diwali, Sanjna Malpani and three of her classmates (Ashna Roy, Tasneem Kakal and Radhika Lokur) from St Xavier's College, Fort, have installed 13 eco-friendly and cost-efficient 'bottle bulbs' in slums at Backbay depot, Koliwada, Worli and Darukhana, Reay Road.

Graduate students from the University of St Gallen, Switzerland, whose work had inspired this activity, worked closely on this project.

Sanjna, a second year life science and biochemistry student, founded Jal Jyoti: Lighting lives, One litre at a time with three of her classmates. Jal Jyoti will take up the work of installing plastic bottles full of water, which harness sunlight to light up dark areas during the day, on the roofs of Mumbai slums. "We wanted to install the bottles in time for Diwali. Our next set of installations will be in Kalyan and Thane, areas where there are power cuts for four to five hours in the day," said Sanjna. The Jal Jyoti team has already managed to get 150 volunteers from the college for future installations. Liter of Light has also set up a Mumbai unit to carry their project forward in Mumbai slums.

This year, Diwali will become all the more special for jawans at India's borders. Around 30 students from Usha Pravin Gandhi College of Management, Vile Parle, will help differently-abled students make greeting cards for injured jawans. Volunteers will visit three special schools in Mumbai on Monday and help children make cards, which will carry Diwali messages written by the collegians.

"We wanted to express our gratitude to our soldiers who sacrifice so much for us. This activity will also give us an opportunity to interact with the differently-abled students more closely," said Binjal Shah, who is looking after the initiative. HR students also plan to take advantage of the hike in demand for beauty services during Diwali. For Project Aasha, which enrolls underprivileged women for beautician and management courses, students hope to help employ the women during the vacation. "There is a spike in demand for beauticians during the festive season," said Pratik Matai, president of Enactus, which carries out Project Aasha. Volunteers will also approach companies with their plan to set up rejuvenation lounges in offices. We hope to get a positive response. Two corporate houses have already agreed," added Pratik.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.