Unesco Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) launched #VirtualGandhiMarch, a social media campaign to mobilise youth to share their kindness stories, on August 12. READ ALSO: #VirtualGandhiMarch starts on August 12: How to take part in the drive The virtual march is part of a wider mission, #KindnessMatters, for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a first-of-its-kind international youth campaign on kindness with the goal of mobilising the world’s youth to achieve the 17 SDGs through transformative acts of kindness, compassion, care towards self, others and the environment. The social media campaign has so far generated more than 3,000 stories from over 50 countries. The second phase of the programme, which will start in 2020, will mobilise UN Member States to declare an International Decade of Kindness.
People who change the world aren’t always who you expect. Sometimes, they’re just ordinary people who believe in a better world and have the drive and undying spirit to achieve their goals. These are the stories of a handful of such people from across the country whose innovative ideas and determination are making a difference in their respective communities.
In the run-up to the event, CNBC-TV18 is publishing a series of inspiring stories of people who are the trailblazers of social change. Below is the sixth story in the series:
Changing the lives of tribal women Name – Alzubair Saiyed Gender – Male Place – Gujrat, India Age – 28
Alzubair Saiyed, a 28-year-old thermal engineer from Gujarat, used his technical skills to solve a social problem which benefitted a number of tribal and rural households. His empathy towards the environment and daily drudgery of the rural women motivated him to initiate the campaign to promote the usage of smokeless cooking stove – the solar cooker. He marked a revolutionary movement towards the usage of renewal sources of energy by creating his own prototype.
Alzubair, an assistant professor at an engineering college, left a promising career and devoted his skill towards finding an effective solution for the problems induced due to the unhealthy methods of cooking practised in various Indian villages.
“I visited a number of villages and found women travelling to far off places to obtain wood for cooking purpose. This was a time-consuming process and would not leave them with much time to attend to their families, especially children. Other than that, it was also a cause of a number of health problems. The scenario was heart-wrenching. The thought of children being left unattended moved me the most. This is when I thought to dedicate myself in providing these women a convenient solution which would be healthy as well as lesser time-consuming so that they have enough time to attend to their children,” he says.
According to him, a number of solutions could be drawn to the issue. However, a simple solution could be ‘solar cooker’ which might not be adequate but can prove to be quite effective. Usage of solar cooker can prevent deforestation, reduce pollution and as well be beneficial for human health.There are two kinds of solar cookers available in the Indian market: a box-type cooker which costs around Rs 2,500 under subsidised rate and parabola solar cooker, costing between
Rs 7,000 and Rs 11,000. “My concern here is, those who could afford these solar cookers i.e. mostly the higher class wouldn’t adopt the cooking method due to the availability of more comfortable alternatives. And those who would be interested like the lower classes or the rural population can’t afford the technology.”
Alzubair along with one of his students, Virendra Dhakhda, designed a prototype which could be made easily at home with paper, cardboard or other waste material costing only Rs 60. The specialty of this type of solar cooker is that not much expertise is needed, therefore, even children and uneducated women can make it easily and it can be used to cook food for 5-6 people.
Considering it a social responsibility, Alzubair along with Virendra initiated a campaign to propagate this affordable, efficient and portable solar cooker. They started providing free training, seminars and workshops to rural women. Also, they gave live demonstrations in different schools, universities, charitable organisations, villages, and tribal areas to bring about awareness. Till date, they have organised 50-55 workshops and have trained more than 1,500 women to manufacture the solar cookers. To this day, all this work has been done at the individual level, without the support of any organisation or person.
Follow the #KindnessMatters series