After 2017’s genocidal campaign of Tatmadaw hundreds and thousands of Rohingyas fled to the neighbouring country Bangladesh in order to save their lives. Their lives were full of misery and sorrow. However, in March 2019, Sunna design, a French company which was among the winners at last year’s Zayed Sustainability Prize, an international award to inspire renewable energy projects brought some light in their life – not metaphorically but by installing sustainable lampost.
“There was pitch dark, no light in the street at all,” said Thomas Samuel, founder and president of Sunna Design. “In Bangladesh, the sun sets at roughly 6 pm, and it is something that we have forgotten to be concerned about living in developed countries. But where there is no street lighting, the feeling of security is gone,” he added.
“The darkness was mostly affecting security at the camp. It was very hard for people to go out at night especially women. They had accidents when they went out,” stated Mr Samuel.
A total of 75 lampposts were built by the dozen Rohingya refugees along with another 12 Bangladeshi locals living near the camp who were trained by Sunna design along with Electricians without borders to install the lampposts, maintain and repair them to ensure long term benefits. Providing this technical training for the refugees also provides them with a potential source of income.
“When they install the lamps themselves, they know where to put them and will be able to take care of them,” said Mr Samuel.
Mr Samuel said they avoided hiring a foreign or local company to do it because they could pay the refugees instead to do it. And with their newly acquired skills, they would hopefully secure jobs in such fields in the future.