Originally published on EdenKeeper.org.
With a population of about 700 people, the village of Sone in West Timor, Indonesia, is famous throughout the region for its production of beautiful, traditional fabrics. Located close to a mountain summit, Sone is completely off the electricity grid. With the hope of learning about the challenges of living in areas that have no electricity, Panasonic Corporation’s “Cut Out the Darkness” project is delivering solar lanterns with beautiful cut-out lantern shades designed by people from all around the world. The designs chosen for production of the shades were chosen by popular votes taken online from among the many artistic wildlife submissions.
Although famous for their lovely hand-woven fabrics, the village women are exposed to health risks for their great dedication to their labor. Often working at their looms late into the night by the light of kerosene lamps, the smoke is dangerous to everyone’s health and the dim, inefficient light causes eye strains. Now, the newly donated solar lanterns can be charged by sunlight during the day for use at night, and likewise reduce the dangerous and ever-present threat of house fires from the kerosene flame.
Constructing a Zoo of Light in Indonesia
Discussing the desire to convey good wishes to the local villagers of Sone, Panasonic and Kopernik personnel in Indonesia came up with the idea for an exciting lighting ceremony to be created together with the villagers. The theme of the ceremony would be called “A Zoo of Light.”
Travelling to the beautiful mountain village of Sone, it was reached by a bumpy road around one hour from Kefamenanu in the center of West Timor, Indonesia. Arriving a day ahead of the planned ceremony, the villagers helped with the necessary preparations. Cutting trees for lantern stands, the villagers also cut long vines to use as ropes for hanging the lanterns. Although in the middle of rainy season for Indonesia, everyone was hoping and praying for sunshine and nice weather.
With answered hopes and prayers, the next day dawned in a cloudless sky. Unloading the solar lanterns in preparation for the donation event, Panasonic’s personnel were greeted with a great surprise. Unexpectedly, all of the villagers arrived dressed in their beautiful, traditional garb, and held a traditional welcome ceremony for their honored guests.
Following the villagers’ welcome ceremony, the donation ceremony proceeded, handing each person a solar lantern and shade. The children showed off their shades to each other, delighted with the fascinating cut-out designs of wildlife. A careful explanation was given on solar energy, and how to use and charge the solar lanterns, and then they were taught how to properly attach the shades.
Next, everyone began assembling the 110 wooden poles and vines to create a structure from which to hang the lanterns. Then the solar lanterns were suspended from the structure, and soon everything was ready as the sun slipped below the beautiful horizon of Indonesia. Everyone had fun preparing for the exciting event, and they could hardly wait for nightfall.
Finally the sky was sufficiently dark, and a cool breeze blew gently through the gathering. Excitedly, all the children’s eyes grew wide and they held their breath for the count. “3… 2… 1… Go!!!” The staff gave the signal and the 110 solar lanterns lit up all at once!
Before everyone’s delighted eyes, a “Lantern zoo” danced in the night sky, complete with rhinos, bears, giraffes, rabbits, birds, and many other animals. The children jumped with excitement as the whole group let out a great cheer, and everyone gazed happily at the beautiful bright zoo of creatures dancing in the breeze.
Creating a Sense of Unity
The “Lantern Zoo” was a huge success. Panasonic “Cut Out the Darkness” Project Leader Hisao Tsugita 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.”
A local coordinator for the NGO Kopernik, Jhon Gideon Adu related, “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.”
Helping to solve issues in developing countries like Indonesia, Kopernik researches products such as biomass-powered cooking stoves and simple water purifiers. Delivering them through donations and sales as a way of supporting a better quality of life, Kopernik helps needy people achieve economic independence.
“A Better Life, A Better World”
“Cut Out the Darkness” is a part of Panasonic’s umbrella CSR initiative, the “100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project.” In coordination with local NGOs like Kopernik, over 2,000 solar lanterns have already been donated to people living off-grid throughout Indonesia.
Pursuing “A Better Life, A Better World,” Panasonic plans to continue working on the “100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project” and contributing to the achievement of United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Watch the YouTube video for the excitement of Panasonic’s “Lantern Zoo in Sone Village, West Timor, Indonesia:”
Picture Credits: all © Panasonic.net “Cut Out the Darkness” project.