D.LIGHT: Brightening the future of poor communities through affordable and reliable electricity
Jun30

D.LIGHT: Brightening the future of poor communities through affordable and reliable electricity

 d.light is an international company dedicated to helping people without access to reliable electricity through affordable and safe solar energy products, from light-emitting-diode (LED) lanterns with cell phone charging capability to study lanterns, which can provide up to 12 hours of light on a day’s solar light charge. YL volunteer Lidia has detail on light-d.light-story:   In the absence of light, darkness prevails. Scary, isn’t it? It’s not the monsters you should be frightened of, but the fact that this is a reality millions of people in underdeveloped nations face every day. You see, no light equals no nocturnal productivity. Without light, people can’t work or study at night, and this is an obstacle against development.  Let’s fix this! Drums roll, please! Let there be light! According to a World Bank study, families who were given access to solar lighting reported a 50% increase on their monthly income, and their children, who previously studied less than one hour per night, are now able to study four hours or more everyday. But what did families use before d.light? Let’s talk about kerosene. Toxic lights – The truth behind kerosene lamps Did you know there are 1.6 billion people in the world with unreliable electrical connections, whose primary source of light is kerosene lamps? Also, did you know these lamps are a common cause behind a large number of fire accidents that result in the destruction of homes and entire communities every year?                                           Did you see the difference in light quality between doing housework by kerosene lamp and d.light S250? . But that’s not all! You see, the fumes they emit, such as carbon dioxide and monoxide, contribute to global warming and acid rain, and also cause severe infections, respiratory problems and cancer. In fact, the World Bank estimates that the 780 million women and children breathing these fumes inhale the equivalent of smoke from two packs of cigarettes a day. The result is that two-thirds of the adult female lung cancer victims in the developing world are non-smokers. Also, the carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in the air and can be fatal when inhaled. Yet the light from kerosene lamps is so poor that people can only see in the dark if they are really close to the flame, which makes them inhale even more of the toxic smoke. Moreover, kerosene has to be imported and can be pretty expensive in rural areas, consuming a large percent of a family’s income. So when it seems like it can’t get any worse, many families cannot afford a proper bottle and wick for the kerosene so they rely...

Read More
Adital Ela’s S-Sense Design:Designs that help save the world
Jun24

Adital Ela’s S-Sense Design:Designs that help save the world

 This article is based on an innovative sustainable product designer who is currently contributing a great deal to especially her own community and the world.  Adital Ela specializes in the field of design for sustainability. Adital also founded and currently  running an active sustainable design studio, S-Sense Design. The studio is based in Israel which aims to promote various projects with companies, non-profit organizations, and social groups. Furthermore, she teaches sustainable design at the social-environmental design study program at HIT Israel and she is a proud TEDfellow. Have you ever to think to yourself that being just one person, you will never be able to make any difference in the world? If you ever think this way you are wrong!! I would like to give you a living example that we can learn from and to be inspired to start making small changes in our community. Hence, making the world a better place will not seemed so far-fetched anymore. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in product design from the Holon Academic Institute of Technology (HIT)  and a Masters of  Design from the ‘Man and Humanity’ Masters program at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Looks like she was born to design!   By now, you must be wondering to know more her beliefs and work aspect. So let’s learn more about Adital through one of her interviews: “I don’t believe in huge actions.” She believes that each and every one has to realize what we can do, and focus on doing what we can. According to her, if we start from the mindset that we want to change the world, it will seemed too big for us. Then we will be discouraged and give up eventually. However if we try to analyze our strengths, our abilities and what are the small steps that we can do and allow them to grow to affect other people. In that way, we will be able make an impact on the world. Hence, we just have to start from something small and do not set goal that are too big. This will make it possible for us to change the world gradually by starting with small changes that you can make yourself. Next is the impact that she is continually  making in her own community. Being a female Israeli and an artist, she uses her strengths to make as much contribution toward women empowerment and in area of design for special needs as possible.  In addition, she often explores ways in which design can generate income to many communities. For example, the “Datewands” project that is presently under progress in collaboration with Sindiyanna of Galilee Fair...

Read More
Irfan Alam’s new Rickshaw Industry: Business improved, Life redefined
Feb07

Irfan Alam’s new Rickshaw Industry: Business improved, Life redefined

Rikshaws are widely used means of traditional transportation in India. The value of this human-powered vehicle always stays. But now the old look and service is innovated.  An innovatively GREAT and sustainable venture is undertaken by a college student which changes the lives of millions in India! Follow this savvy entrepreneur’s story of hard work and success in the rickshaw industry. It all begins with water… Mr. Irfan Alam tells me he stumbled upon the opportunity when he could not access water while being taxied in a rickshaw one hot summer’s afternoon. This evidently began his self-initiated journey which would affect the lives of millions in the years to come! In my opinion it is really interesting to hear how these huge life-changing ventures begin. Mr Alam introduces himself and his initiative in the ‘Made In India Search 2009’ at the Enterprising INDIA Summit. Although the following clip goes for around 10 minutes, I do recommend you view it before reading on as it is a good introduction to the entrepreneur Changing our world for the positive… There was an opportunity in the rickshaw sector and Mr. Alam knew it. He did some research and discovered that ‘almost ninety-five percent of rickshaw operators do not own the rickshaw but instead they take them on daily rent (20-30 Rs/day) basis’ which is approximately 0.658 USD. Mr Alam found that the operators are ‘seasonal migrants, they never own the rickshaw: The reason being very simple – that they do not carry any identity. They migrate from rural India to urban India after the harvesting season.’ He tells me that since they are unskilled and illiterate, they find it difficult to gain employment to cover their basic needs. It is then considered by Mr. Alam in his research stage (while he was still at college) that the rickshaw owners often claim its only a small charge on the use of the rickshaws to the operators, however, as there was no means of maintaining such an agreement the operators were exploited, substantially underpaid, and are often not paid at all. The entrepreneur now sees there is not only an opportunity for improvement, but a need for change within the industry. 2007/08 was the year Mr. Alam developed the SammaaN Foundation. The idea behind the SammaaN Foundation is to organize the rickshaw pulling industry under one name by providing a more unified system. This system would include a strong emphasis on improving the livelihood of the operators. ‘Sammaan’ basically means respect to everyone in Hindi. The rickshaw industry is said to provide approximately thirty percent of India’s public transport. Not all smooth sailing by far… The business...

Read More
Haruka Maruno (12): Eco-friendly paper scoops for your doggie poo
Jan03

Haruka Maruno (12): Eco-friendly paper scoops for your doggie poo

Youth always brings fresh, talented and creative ideas but as Aristotle once said “young minds are easily deceived because they are quick to hope”. Well, young leaders must be willing to challenge Aristotle. Miss Maruno is the creator of an earth-friendly scoop for dog feces and in the year 2000 she was named one of the nine Heroes for the Planet by Time Magazine in their Special Edition for Earth Day. It’s a dog thing… Very few things in the world compare to the warmth you receive from your pets, but love also requires compromise so it is imperative that you take care of your pet’s needs. If you have a dog in your family then you know this for sure. You must feed your dog, take him/her on walks, look after their hygiene and clean them up which includes and a not very pleasant task: picking up its poop. As unpleasant as this can be, it is extremely important for you to do it because that way you will protect yourself, your family and everyone else in your community from the diseases that are transmitted by animal waste. You see, dogs and cats host the roundworm Toxocara Cannis. This parasite’s eggs grow in the feces of their host and develop into larvae once they are ingested by a new host, which could be a human being or another animal.  The larva it’s unable to develop inside of a human body so it proceeds to wander around and invade the organs and tissues causing inflammation, most commonly in the liver and the lungs. Toxocariasis, which is the name of this parasite infection, comes in two main clinical presentations: visceral larva migrans (VLM) and ocular larva migrans (OLM). In OLM it may cause blindness because of lesions to the ocular globe. These cases have often been misdiagnosed as retinoblasma and this error has lead to erroneous and unnecessary removal of the eye globe. In VLM the larvae invades multiple tissues and causes various symptoms such as epilepsy, asthma and flu-like symptoms. Now, how can we avoid this from happening? Well, the egg ingestion usually occurs when they are deposited on the hands or the face after handling infected dogs or cats, or by ingesting egg-contaminated soil. The problem is eggs can remain active in the soil for up to four years so cleaning up after your dog is the only way of ensuring that the risk of infection is eliminated. So as you’ve read by now, as small as it seems this is some serious business. In some countries it is actually an offence for anyone in charge of a...

Read More
Ankur Taking Humble Initiatives in Empowering Bangladesh through Computer Education
Dec31

Ankur Taking Humble Initiatives in Empowering Bangladesh through Computer Education

And you thought new, philanthropist ideas were a thing of past? Well here comes AIDF- Ankur ICT Development Foundation, a unique not-for-profit organization whose prime aim is to impart computer literacy to the people of Bangladesh in their native language –Bengali or ‘Bangla’ as they call it. Founded in October 2002 as a volunteer organization, Ankur ICT Development Foundation is now working professionally on the localization, translation and adaptation of Free and Open Source Software to Bangla language and culture. These softwares include operating system, word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, e-mail client, internet browser, media player etc. There would be no barriers in Bangladesh in acquiring widespread use of information and communication technology; This is the mission of AIDF. And the vision is, in a nutshell, turning Bangladesh into a highly developed society that conveniently provides technology and computer based education to all classes of people. Why don’t you check it out for yourself?  http://www.ankur.org.bd/wiki/Home Let’s take a look at how far they have come AIDF fully localized the Mozilla Firefox (version 3.5) in 2009.  Also, they have developed a Bangla Spell Checker consists of 100,000 unique words. In the same year Bangla OpenOffice.org 3.1.1 has been released by Ankur which is based on the original source code of OpenOffice.org 3.1.x. . Both of the windows clearly depict an MS Power Point slide and various options shown in Bengali language, thereby reaching the grassroots through their efforts. AIDF has developed a simple automated interface for all the application to be installed from one single Interface, no user-name and or password is needed. Anyone can install any or all of the application using only few clicks in all versions of Windows. Many books on its application in Bangla containing 300 pages with 850+ pictorial instructions have been developed by AIDF. Hundreds of presentation slides along with scripts for conducting classes too have been developed. GNOME 2.30, the latest version of the GNOME Desktop, a popular, multi-platform desktop environment for your computer, has been released in Bangla by Ankur and they are the official localization authority for Bangla (bn).  All famous Linux distribution uses GNOME as their primary desktop environment. If you are using Ubuntu or Fedora in Bangla, that’s translated by them. Ministry of Science and ICT, Government of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh (MoSICT) awarded Ankur as a Champion in the e-Localization category for the first National e-Content and ICT for Development Award 2010 (eAward). It held in 14 categories both for on-line and off-line content products and ICT interventions and applications. On 27th April, 2009 Ministry of Education and Ministry of Primary and Mass Education inaugurated a four days...

Read More
SRISTI & The Honeybee Network : collecting Inventions by the Poor
Dec24

SRISTI & The Honeybee Network : collecting Inventions by the Poor

For the last seventeen years the Honeybee Network and Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI) have been scouting innovations by farmers, artisans, women, etc. at the grassroots level.Gujarat Grassroots Innovations Augmentation Network (GIAN) scales up innovations, from the Honey Bee database of innovations, through value additions in innovations to sustain creativity and ethics of experimentation. GIAN was conceived at the International Conference on Creativity and Innovation at Grassroots (ICCIG), jointly organized by IIM Ahmedabad and SRISTI. The Honey Bee database of 10,000 innovations, collected and documented by SRISTI, would be part of the National Register of Innovations to be managed and supported by NIF. The Honey Bee Network addresses one of the major impediments to realizing the innovative potential of Indian communities: the lack of an efficient feedback system. Unlike the more developed segments of urban society, the creativity of knowledge-rich peoples in rural and isolated areas goes largely unseen because they lack the necessary channels of sharing their ideas with the wider polity. By providing publicly available access points (e.g. kiosks) in remote villages throughout India, the Honey Bee Network affords these geographically disadvantaged peoples an opportunity to share their creations and ideas with their peers in other parts of the country and the global community. Engaging Encounters Organized by SRISTI, the Shodhyatras are eight to ten day treks to remote villages to tap into the innovative spirit of local experts. The objective of these village-level meetings is to gain a better understanding of the many ways that isolated community members have contributed social and economic development, while honoring outstanding people for their creativity. Since 1998, they have proved to be an invaluable mechanism for the creation of sustainable social networks and innovation. For instance, in one village some elderly women organized a friendly competition to identify women who could cook the best using uncultivated plants. In another contest, children competed for prizes and certificates for innovative ways to address the issue of biodiversity. The Shodhyatras serve as a way to showcase and cultivate indigenous human capital, while also engaging remote communities in a participatory development process. – Beyond India Although SRISTI continues to provide institutional support, the Honey Been Network’s strength lies in its network of volunteers from over 77 countries around the world. Using newsletters based on local language and cultural inputs, volunteers throughout the world help to cultivate the knowledge and creativity of marginalized societies. By 2000, the Honey Bee database contained over 12,000 entries of innovations. Since the NIF and Honey Bee workers began organizing national competitions for innovations, the database has grown significantly and now contains over 20,000...

Read More