Notes from the Solar Generation Diaries

Feature story - April 19, 2004
DHARAMSALA, India — On 19th April 2004, a group of seventeen people from Greenpeace Germany, Switzerland and India embarked on a journey to Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, to participate in the first ‘Solar Generation’ project in India. Together with youngsters from the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV), Greenpeace installed a 2KW solar generator to provide electricity to a school in Dharamsala. Here are first-hand accounts from some of them.

Notes from the Solar Generation Diaries

Deb Kumar Chatterjee, New Delhi: My name is Deb and I work with the Greenpeace Direct Dialogue Team in New Delhi. Last week I had the privilege of being in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh with an international, multi-cultural team working on the Solar Generation's first project in India. I'd like to share some of my experiences from this trip.

We started our journey from New Delhi at six o'clock in the morning on 19th April, after an introduction with our international visitors. 17 people in all left for Dharamsala - though everyone was in high spirits, we were also keeping to ourselves a little bit, since we were new to each other. But as with all long journeys, by the end of our 14 hour road trip to Dharamsala, we had befriended the others well enough to be singing songs together in German, Hindi and English! By the end of the first day we felt like a strong team, and got the feeling that we knew each other well.

This long journey made me realize how passionate the German students were about our Solar Generation project - it also made me realize why Greenpeace Germany is considered very strong; they have found youngsters with the potential to be 'future leaders' who can convey their message to future generations. It was a great learning process for me.

The next morning, it was great to wake up in this beautiful place at an altitude of 1817 m above sea level - and even better to have breakfast in the Tibetan Children's Village canteen, along with the rest of the German team. We were already beginning to feel like old friends! The bad news was that three of our German friends had fallen ill, and needed to rest a little. After breakfast, we were formally welcomed by the Director of the TCV and introduced to the 12 Tibetan school students who would be working with us on this project. Our new Tibetan friends took us on a quick tour of their village after which we went for a slightly more formal presentation on the TCV. After lunch we heard a presentation about climate change by Fiona Koza (Greenpeace India Energy Campaign), and another presentation by Sven Teske (Greenpeace Germany Energy Campaign) about solar conversion devices. One thing amply clear to us by now, is that in the coming years, much of India's fossil fuel reserves will be gone, and at a great cost to our own future. If we are to have a clean, sustainable future, we must urgently switch to renewable energy sources.

Sachin Singh, Mumbai: Hi, I'm Sachin, a Direct Dialogue recruiter from the Mumbai team. I too had a great time working on the Dharamsala project, with Greenpeace teams from 3 countries working with the students of the TCV. It's great to feel that together we are actually doing something to make our planet safer and cleaner.

As part of our first combined exercises, we brainstormed for hours and came up with the single message we want to put out to the world through this project - "One Sun, one Earth, one Future, ACT NOW"!

We painted this message on a huge banner on the third day of our trip, and apart from the fun we had, and the satisfaction of our positive action, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction in the common hope we all harbour in our hearts - the sense that even though we belong to different countries and different cultures, and spoke different languages, we are all united in our efforts to save the planet.

Judging by our collective enthusiasm, I am convinced that it is we, the youth who are going to make a difference. And at the end of this small note, I would like to send a message to India and the whole world: we must save our planet and we must act now to do so!

Jan Schlenk, Hannover, Germany:I joined the Greenpeace Germany 'Green Team' in 1995, and have been a part of Greenpeace projects ever since. I first came to Dharamsala for a school volunteer project in 2002, and liked the place so much that I came back three more times! I brought up the idea of the Solar PV electricity supply to the TCV school with Greenpeace Germany in October 2002, after which I discussed it with the Director of the TCV.

Although it has taken one-and-a-half years for this project to materialize, I am happy to see it finally bear fruit. I believe this project is a wonderful beginning towards educating students about Renewable Energy sources. I particularly enjoyed the exchanges between the Swiss, German, Indian and Tibetan children, and I do hope that it is only the start of a long relationship!