Changemaker: Sulakshana Senanayake
“Powering Sri Lanka, one village at a time”
On 24th of February 2012, 8 volunteers from the very unique project titled "Empower Lanka" visited the remote village of Ratugala, Bibile in Sri Lanka which is one of the two last remaining "vedda" (indigenous people) communities of the country. This village has had no access to electricity from the main electricity grid due to its remoteness and also because the people are unable to afford it. These young volunteers installed a 300W off grid solar power system in this village with wiring and lighting for 15 households. This effort was widely commended from all fronts of the country and received extensive media coverage."We are extremely happy about the success of our first project in Ratugala, Bibile. We were touched by the difficulties the children of this village had to face. They could hardly study at night with the toxic fumes of the kerosene lamps which were becoming more and more expensive to burn for their parents with the recent fuel price hikes." Commented Sulakshana Senanayake- founder of Empower Lanka.
Empower Lanka- as the name suggests is a social enterprise that aims to literally empower this small island with electricity which nearly 20% of the population has no access to. As a result, people are left to burning Kerosene Lamps which are both expensive and a great health hazard due to the toxic fumes. Empower Lanka's tag line is "Powering Sri Lanka, One Village at a Time" and hopes to achieve the ultimate goal of eradicating poverty through the spread of electricity while promoting renewable energy among the community.
What more interesting is that this organization is the ONLY youth led project of this sort which is the country which strives to solve the energy crisis, reduce poverty as well as prevent climate change.
Empower Lanka also hopes to make Green Energy affordable to all in the near future by introducing affordable Domestic Solar Power Systems to meet the everyday needs. The "Micro Grid Power System" which powered the village was designed by the volunteers of Empower Lanka who are mostly from the University Of Colombo Department Of Physics. As a result, the systems are cheaper than any other in South Asia. This is also an international project to be expanded in India and Pakistan since Empower Lanka is sharing its technology. The project is being copied to better the lives of those out of our reach by partner organizations.
This project also introduces the concept of "pre-packaged CSR" in Sri Lanka so that companies can invest in a worthwhile project that has multiple benefits. More information can be found on: http://empowerlanka.org