In January, I visited India for the first time
on a tour organized by fellow Rotarians. We
visited many of the impressive monuments and
temples in the region around Delhi. Yet, the
most striking images were those of entire families
living on the street next to our hotel or in
rural villages with no running water, electricity,
transportation or communication. It was poverty
on a widespread scale.
The experience helped me appreciate all that
we have. By no fault of their own, millions
are born into substandard living conditions.
1.6 billion people, mostly living in Africa
and on the Indian subcontinent still have no
electrical services, clean water or sanitation.
I saw their will to work and survive, while
lacking all the basic services that we take
for granted. This is one of the engineering
and moral challenges of our time.
At the regional scale, we saw first-world power
grids in India yet experienced several
power outages during our stay. Commerce stops
when the power goes out. Investing in transmission
systems across the country buttresses the whole
economy. The World
Bank helps to fund projects to upgrade and
interconnect grid systems across the Indian
Meanwhile in South Africa, rural
electrification is powering new jobs and
income, transforming their lives. The benefits
are greatest for women and children, who spend
hours every day collecting firewood and fetching
water. Refrigeration of medicines, a solar
water pump and a light bulb can transform the
quality of life for an impoverished family and
an entire village.
The faces of woman and child begging for food
and money is impossible to forget. They do whatever
they can to survive. It's difficult to imagine,
but take away our electricity and we would have
no work, no clean water, no computer or TV.
That's what GENI is about getting clean
electricity to everyone as soon as possible.
My tour reinforced the need for the GENI Initiative,
and we appreciate your continued support in
making our world a better place for all.