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Up until 2013, when the sun set on the village of Sirohi, India, an hour’s drive from Delhi, everything slowed down or stopped. Of the 370 households in the village, only 203 were connected to electricity. And those homes received just 5 hours of electricity a day, leaving more than 3,500 residents in the dark. Homework, travel, business, and even cooking the evening meal were accomplished only with the aid of candles and kerosene lamps—both insufficient and dangerous—making it difficult, if not impossible, to work, cook, or travel after dark.

The citizens of Sirohi have power and a means to promote prosperity. Volunteers from Bechtel, together with Engineers Without Borders-India, Skilled Samaritan Foundation, and other partners, helped make it happen.

Volunteers from our New Delhi office, together with Engineers Without Borders-India, Skilled Samaritan Foundation, and other partners, began helping the Sirohi citizens use a resource they did have—the sun—to help power their lights and promote prosperity. 

Partnership for success

To begin, Bechtel’s New Delhi office formed an EWB chapter, and it helped create EWBIndia student chapters at two premier engineering schools, Delhi Technological University and National Power Training Institute. This team installed two solar powered LEDs in all 370 Sirohi households, which included overhead fixtures and portable lanterns for safe night travel. Volunteers and villagers set up a Village Energy Committee to sustain the project long after its completion. 

“Our aim is for Sirohi to be a self-sustaining community where the locals eventually take ownership of the projects we help implement and take charge of their lives,” says Guari Agrawal, head of Skilled Samaritan Foundation. “We hope for projects in sanitation, water, waste management, and education to kick-start within the next two years."

We couldn’t believe that this would actually happen in our village. This program will change our lives. Every single person will benefit from it. Our children will be able to study better. We can work at night also now and produce much more. 

Sawan, a craftsman from Sirohi