RADHICA DE SILVA
For five years Shania Khan-Soodeen watched her children suffer.
They struggled through school barely managing to complete assignments using candlelight as they had no access to electricity; much less a computer, printer or internet.
But on Saturday, Khan-Soodeen wiped tears of joy off their faces when the managing director of RESSCOTT Limited Graeme Jones powered their home using solar energy.
A two-kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed with a capability of running the lights, fans and television off the grid.
Speaking to Guardian Media, Khan-Soodeen said her four elder children aged seven to 14, were obedient and studious but all of them faced setbacks because of not having electricity.
“Other children would bully them and laugh at them because we didn’t have current,” Khan-Soodeen said.
The family lives at Lowkie Trace in Penal on a hilltop overlooking lagoons and pastures but despite the beauty of their surroundings, life was hard without electrical power.
Khan-Soodeen and her common-law husband Asif Mohammed tried to power the house using a generator. Several old battered generators were stacked up next to the house.
“The generator was always breaking down. We applied to T&TEC for electricity but we never got any because they said this is Petrotrin land,” Khan-Soodeen said.
She revealed that her family had been occupying the land and pastures for over 40 years, yet T&TEC could not give a connection as they had no recent rent receipts.
“I remember last year Divali when everybody had lights and deyas in their home, we were in darkness. Asif was out there in the mud, trying to fix the generator,” Khan-Soodeen recalled.
The children spent a miserable holiday and Khan-Soodeen said she prayed that one day they would be able to afford basic amenities.
She said when Mohammed finally got the generator to work, they would have to fork out $300 per week to buy diesel to power it. Most times the generator would break down before the fuel ran out.
She said their youngest, aged four, was born with an intestinal defect and they used up most of their savings getting him medical care.
“We went by so many people looking for help and eventually we decided to see if we could get solar power,” she revealed. The family then went to RESSCOTT Limited- the Solar Company- on Cipero Street to make enquiries.
Jones, the founder of the company, a past pupil of Presentation College, decided to make a site visit and realized that the family was in desperate need.
“I felt sorry for them when I saw their poorly functioning, high maintenance diesel generator,” he said.
Even though it would cost over $40,000 to power the house, Jones began soliciting assistance. Several companies rose to the challenge. Platinum sponsors Southern Sales and Services Limited, Imitiaz Ahamad contributed to the project, along with gold sponsors Chakra Enterprises Limited, Budget Motors Limited and SESL Limited.
“We managed to install a 2kw PV system capable of running all basic household amenities off the grid and it was amazing to see how happy the children were now that they finally had light to do their projects and homework,” Jones said.
As a treat, he took the children to a nearby parlour where they were treated to snacks and drinks.
Jones said giving a helping hand to the family was motivating.
“Although we know of several families who need help, we encourage other companies to bring their cases forward to RESSCOTT Ltd or contribute to the cause,” he said.
Anyone interested in contacting RESSCOTT can contact Operations Manager Shamir Khan at 366-2471 or 688- 9950.