JOURNEY FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
Outlook Traveller|July 2021
A young girl from Sumda Chenmo, a remote village in Ladakh’s Markha region, shares her journey from growing up without electricity to solar-electrifying over 50 such villages
GURMET ANGMO

I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I saw a light bulb on a trip to Leh — I was 11, and drawn towards it like a moth. In its milky brightness, some of the biggest challenges of our daily lives back home suddenly seemed surmountable. What if we, too, had bulbs in our village? What if we could defy the darkness, and stretch the day, long after the sun had slid behind the coppery mountains of the Markha Valley?

Growing up our lives were deeply interwoven with nature. We lived in harmony with wild animals in the Ladakhi countryside, and our days revolved around the sun, getting shorter during winters. A typical day started early with household chores, followed by school and farming. We rushed from school to help our parents on the farm, then home to complete our homework and even cook before sundown. None of us were allowed to step out after dark, of course, as it was the turn of the animals to roam free and stake their claim to the valley.

For mountain communities, education comes at a price. We don’t have even the basic infrastructure and facilities like electricity, water, and a sturdy roof. In a remote village like ours, it’s a luxury to find a school with permanent teachers, forget about computers, internet or high-tech classes. So, after completing my primary education in the village, I had to move to Leh to study further.

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