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Voices from the Field: Giving the Green Light

June 16, 2011 - India

by Ximena Prugue

The first week of March, I had the pleasure of visiting Caitlin McQuilling, Nyamat Bindra, and Naiara Tejados in Madhya Pradesh, India as part of a project I started to distribute solar-powered flashlights to the rural villages called Giving the Green Light. I traveled with my best friend and business partner, Stephany Torres. We met up with Caitlin in Khandwa who greeted us with a bright smile and fresh attitude along with Manisha and Anjana, RMF field workers. We were off to Ranai, a village in Khandwa that is home to Korku tribe of India, to check up on the MUAC kids and get Stephany and I acquainted with the villagers.

We visited the school and saw the children getting their mid-day meal. Walking around the village, everyone was coming out of their houses curious to see who the mysterious visitors are and we slowly started gaining a group of villagers following us to see where we were going. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so popular! We held a village meeting and talked to the villagers about their biggest concerns and what they wanted to see changed. Two of the main concerns were toilets, and electricity at night. In a village of 5,000 people, there was approximately 6 toilets, many of them being private toilets for villager leaders. As much as open defecation has become a norm within the village, they wanted toilets.

Electricity at night was exactly what Stephany and I came for. Our project, Giving the Green Light, provides the villagers solar-power lighting to eliminate the use of kerosene lamps and provide a clean and inexpensive form of electricity. We sold the lights to the villagers for a subsidized cost of approximately 2 dollars, while the lights usually cost fifteen dollars. The money went back into a village account that would fund either replacements for the lights, or any other projects that the village would vote on to see realized.

Stephany and I stayed the night with the anganwadi worker in the village, which we both agree was the best night from the entire trip for the both of us. All the women in the village were so curious and had so many questions for us and the hospitality was overwhelming. We sold the lights both at night and the next morning to a total of 75 lights sold. The big smiles and excited faces of the villagers with their new lights reminded me why Giving the Green Light was so important to me. None of it would have possible without the tremendous work that RMF has done in the villages to create a presence and pave the way for progress in Khandwa.

The next day Stephany and I were off to Jhabua, where we were to distribute the flashlights to the students from the Bhil Academy. Again, we were welcomed with incredible hospitality from the students, staff, and the RMF members Nyamat and Naiara. After we distributed the lights, the students couldn’t wait to use them. They each had their own personal light that they did not have to share with anyone and they each wrote their own name on them. One teacher came to me and thanked me for the flashlights saying that the children were so excited, as was she, because they would not have been able to afford them otherwise. She almost began to cry as she was speaking, and it again reminded me how a small step can make great progress.

My visit to Khandwa and Jhabua with Stephany was a tremendous and motivating experience. I learned so much working in the field with Caitlin, Nyamat, and Naiara and was extremely inspired by them and all that they do for RMF. I cannot thank them enough for all that they’ve given me and I hope to get the opportunity to visit as soon as possible. Change in the world comes from the hearts and minds of women like Caitlin, Nyamat, and Naiara who sacrifice their own vanities and refuse to give up on humanity, something we can all learn from.

For a great video summary of Ximena’s trip, check out the video she made about her trip on Youtube:

Ximena also just won an award from the United Nations Environment Program based on a blog entry she wrote about Madhya Pradesh!

For more information about RMF’s Malnutrition Eradication Program in India, click here

We can use any financial help you are able to provide on this project to continue our Education, Treatment and Outreach and help towards our goal of Malnutrition Eradication in this region of India.

To contribute to this initiative, please visit our website at

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