On 1 September 2015, Panasonic Group Companies in Thailand donated 100 solar lanterns to Thai Hill Tribe Learning Center, Non-formal Education Center, Medical Station, and non-electrified villages in Om Koi District, Chiang Mai, Thailand. The initiative falls under Panasonic’s global 100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project which aims to alleviate social challenges and improve quality of life in non-electrified regions.
The donation was done in collaboration with Raks Thai Foundation, a non-governmental organisation that promotes strong communities and assists the disadvantaged in society, particularly in the areas of education and environmental preservation.
Om Koi District lies in the mountainous part of Chiang Mai Province in northern Thailand. Made up largely of the ethnic minority Hill Tribe, Om Koi is among the poorest regions in the country. Its remote location makes access difficult. Without electricity, villagers rely heavily on a manual water transportation system in order to use water from the mountains for daily needs such as drinking, showering, washing and other activities. The Yang Piang Sub District in Om Koi, one of the beneficiaries of the solar lantern donation, consists of 17 villages with 5,488 inhabitants. Access to electricity is limited, therefore reducing educational and healthcare opportunities.
Takeshi Nomoto, CEO of Panasonic Group in Thailand commented, “In Thailand, there are many rural areas that cannot access electricity, making daily lives difficult. I hope our solar lanterns can improve living conditions of the Om Koi people, both young and old. With light, students can conveniently go through their school work from the comfort of their homes, and villagers who require urgent medical attention at night, can now do so in a safe manner.”
Upon concluding the donation ceremony, the Panasonic team took a six-hour journey from Raks Thai Foundation headquarters in Chiang Mai City to Baan Soblan Primary School located in Om Koi District. There, an Eco Learning Programme was conducted to educate children on the importance of green energy such as sunlight. Students were also thought how to use the Panasonic solar lantern.
Panasonic solar lantern model BG-BL03 can be fully charged within six hours under direct sunlight, and used between 6 hours (at maximum brightness) and 90 hours (at minimum brightness). The lantern doubles as a power source to charge small mobile devices.