West Timor, Indonesia - By the time of its hundredth anniversary in 2018, Panasonic Corporation's "100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project" aims to donate 100,000 solar lanterns to people who have no access to electricity. At the end of February 2015, a lantern donation and lighting ceremony was held in the village of Sone, in Indonesia's West Timor, as part of a related project. The "Cut Out the Darkness" project delivers solar lanterns with lantern shades designed by people from around the world, in the hope of getting more people to participate personally and learn about the challenges of living in areas that have no electricity.
At the lantern-lighting ceremony, prepared together with the villagers, all kinds of animal designs on the shades appeared suddenly, as if floating in the air, when the solar lanterns were turned on. The theme was a "Zoo of Light."
For this ceremony, 110 of the 1,010 solar lanterns donated to Indonesia through the main Project in fiscal 2014, were donated to the people of Sone through an NGO named Kopernik. The designs for the shades were chosen by popular votes online from among many submissions.
The village of Sone is completely off the electricity grid. Located close a mountain summit, and with a population of about 700 people, Sone is known for its production of traditional fabrics. In the past, hand-weaving work by the light of kerosene lamps at night was inefficient, strained the eyes, and exposed households to health risks from the kerosene smoke. The threat of house fires from the flame of the lamp was always present. The newly-donated solar lanterns can be charged by sunlight during the day and then used at night. Adults can use them to see their weaving better, making their work more efficient and safe, and children are now able to study even at night.
Jhon Gideon Adu, a local coordinator for Kopernik, had this to say: "The people of Sone village thank Panasonic and everyone who participated in designing the lantern shades. Thanks to the light of the solar lanterns, they can work effectively and families can get together at night. Children can study, and the various designs on the shades expand their interests. We are very grateful for your support."
Hisao Tsugita, project leader of the "Cut Out the Darkness" project, said, "By creating the lighting ceremony together with the villagers, we were able to feel a sense of unity. We hope that the designs in this project will open up a new world for the children in the village as well."
Panasonic plans to donate a total of about 20,000 lanterns in fiscal 2014 through the main Project. A total of over 40,000 were donated in the first three years. Donated solar lanterns are used to help solve social challenges in areas without electricity through over 50 recipient organizations in ten other countries besides Indonesia, including Cambodia, India, Kenya, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Recipient organizations are NGOs, NPOs, and international organizations active in the areas of education, health, and empowering women.
Panasonic plans to continue working on the "100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project" as part of its efforts to pursue "A Better Life, A Better World" and to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Cut Out the Darkness Lantern'zoo
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Child looking at the animal lit by the lantern's light.
Working by the light of a solar lantern.
We received many positive comments, like "We now have more time tospend with our families."