Children at the RE fairPhoto © Apoorv Tiwary

On the evening of May 5th 2013, in a residential area in Mayur Vihar, New Delhi, Greenpeace India and its determined volunteers held a community fair in order to spread awareness about the importance of solar energy and its relevance in today's day and age. An event that took shape in a matter of two days saw enthusiastic participation from the residents of the Society that matched up to the zeal of the volunteers who were led by Public Engagement Intern, Sanchita Mahajan under the able guidance of Public Engagement Campaigner, Usha Saxena and the rest of the Greenpeace team.

After two days of intense mobilisation of resources and permissions sought, the fair was an evening of considerable enjoyment along with delivering essential information. With events like a photo-exhibition, street play, quiz competition, poster and shirt painting competitions, the volunteers managed to keep the residents of the society well engaged while enlightening them about the benefits of solar power throughout.

The photo exhibitionPhoto © Brikeh Singh / Greenpeace

The fair was a part of the Greenpeace's Renewable Energy (RE) campaign that calls on individuals to "Switch on the Sun". It was held in order to provide opportunities to the people of Delhi to pledge their roof-tops showcasing support for a greener, self-sustainable city. The fair was the first of its kind event undertaken by the RE team in order to mobilise citizens of the city to peacefully protest against the government's non-fulfillment of their Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO), and to register their support for the campaign.

The fair began with residents keenly coming in and taking in the sights that had been put up by Greenpeace volunteers. The photo exhibition demonstrated the problems with thermal energy and its effects on nature and humans. It then provided the solar solution. A poster-making and shirt-painting competition for the young people was also organized, with the theme being "The Sun". About 30 youngsters participated with each one of them expressing their own idiosyncratic views about the importance of the bright star.

The painted T-shirtsPhoto © Brikeh Singh / Greenpeace

Alongside all this activity, the volunteers had prepared cakes for the visitors in solar cookers which they proudly distributed amongst young and old. Also, around 300 ice cream candies, frozen with the help of solar power, were distributed amongst the hundreds that showed up for the event.

As the evening progressed, the fair saw some frank and technical discussions about the relevance of solar energy and its development in today's time. A street play invoking strong emotions from the viewer's also added to the 'star' studded evening that it was. The young and old gathered enthusiastically for the quiz competition, which turned out to be the highlight of the evening with each side expressing their intellectual prowess. The event came to a close with the tunes of a three-stringed guitar that an enthusiastic resident brought forth to the joy of one and all.

Children participating in the eventPhoto © Apoorv Tiwary

Being the pilot for the upcoming large-scale fairs all around the National Capital, the Mayur Vihar project was a significant achievement on many levels. It provided many answers to both the residents as well as Greenpeace about efforts and objectives. It opened up frank discussions about solar power and its viability while making people of all ages in the area aware of its importance. It was a drop in an ocean, but a significant drop that shall open the floodgates for a more informed and invigorated debate about the practices or rather the malpractices of our Government in the energy sphere. It has the potential to eventually lead us to the answer to the coal problem.

Muqeet Drabu is a volunteer with Greenpeace India.

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