Rays4Hope: Spreading electricity in the peripheries of Bangladesh
A developing country like Bangladesh could not have fared well in the global economic race if it were not for the human capital. Every single day there are thousands of people, with millions of ideas, to take the country forward, and we believe it is our duty to make their stories known.
Rays4Hope is one such organisation led by two NRB brothers, Zaid Nasr and Saif Nasr from Northern Virginia, U.S.A. Their story begins humbly, with the younger brother Zaid visiting Bangladesh, a few years ago to set up a medical camp along with his father.
During the trip Zaid noticed that many households in the rural settings of the country lacked electricity and everything 'went dark' after sunset. This gravely impacted his young mind.
"Yes! This was certainly upsetting. I just couldn't imagine what the kids did after sunset. Homework was probably the least of their worries. If it were me staying in one of these villages, I'd have much more important things to worry about like being robbed or even going to the toilet," conveyed Zaid.
He added on to express his concern…"A mother from one of these villages even told me that she was concerned about stepping on snakes at night and worried about her children getting bitten by them," revealed Zaid.
This harrowing experience led the young man, still a school student back then, to research in depth about technologies which could help villagers escape stone age.
"I just had to think up ways to help the children! To support their education, comfort and safety — but also do it in an inexpensive way that was environmentally friendly."
Back in the US, the brothers kept on researching multiple sources of renewable power, such as solar and wind. But then they realised due to Bangladesh's bounty of sunshine, solar energy had to be the most cost-effective approach.
"We realised that with solar-energy there would be no need for expensive infrastructure and carbon emissions would be non-existent. So, solar-power met all our criteria," said Zaid.
Then came the next big hurdle of providing solutions to Bangladesh. For this, the brothers founded a non-profit, Rays4Hope, with the sole mission of installing solar units in the villages of developing countries like Bangladesh.
"We have installed panels, converters and batteries in multiple houses in the same village and set up a simple system to share power between them, essentially creating a micro-power grid.
"Immediately the children started doing their maths in the evenings, the families could eat under
the light at night and they felt safer after sunset. Fifty-four units have been installed already. We have raised funds to install 80 more units but the operations have been severely affected by the pandemic", revealed Saif.
With COVID-19, putting a halt to international travel, it was a hurdle for the brothers to come to Bangladesh on a regular basis but they kept their tab on the villages and the entire process of installation of solar lights. And with the pandemic slowly subsiding from the world, things are slowly getting back on track and so is Rays4Hopes's vision.
"I have already contacted suppliers, evaluated solar irradiance maps, and prepared lists
of villages and houses for the next round of installations, and re-start the project in 2022. We are hoping to coordinate with organisations installing tube wells to see if the solar units can also be used to pump and purify the water supply in the villages," said Zaid.
After their initial success in Bangladesh, Rays4Hope also expanded to Ghana, where the brother's with their non-profit have been able to install over 30 solar systems.
"Our hope is to expand to other African nations as travel becomes easier in the near future. I feel that free, clean and plentiful power will help liberate millions of people from the bondages of under education, health and safety. In the near future, as 5G wireless technologies become prevalent, these rural areas will have an opportunity to participate in a revolutionary advancement in connectivity. Combined with reliable power, fast connectivity, will allow for the formation of village based IT cooperatives which can train and employ workers for the global marketplace, right in their villages. This will help decrease the ever increasing economic migration to highly stressed urban centres like Dhaka and help people keep their connections to their ancestral homes," revealed Zaid.
So much forward thinking from such young minds. We can only hope for the best and wish that people realise the good work they have been doing and assist in their way to progress.
Essentials: The brothers can be reached through Rays4Hope.org or through email@example.com