Lying between two channels of the mighty Brahmaputra in the state of Assam in north-east India is Majuli island, India’s largest river island. This picturesque watery idyll could easily appear as tranquillity captured on a frame. Further inside Majuli is Bakelimobherguri, a village-island with 45 families in it. Bakelimobherguri is home for Noyonika Pegu, a student of standard III, and her sister Bikash Pegu, a student of standard II. Bakelimobherguri is not as tranquil as it appears to be, especially when the Brahmaputra is not at peace. It is such nights that Noyonika and Bikash dread the most. Their parents put them to bed in their little hut quite early during such nights. They try hard to sleep between the engulfing howl of the river and the intense darkness around. The flickering candlelight is not strong enough to allay their fears.

Noyonika’s grandfather often comforts them saying the darkness and the howl are part of the island life. It has been so during his lifetime and during his forefathers. Their grandfather knows well there is more to what Noyonika and Bikash have to get used to.
Bakelimobherguri island in 2020 is without electricity, school, medical centre, clean drinking water among other basic facilities. On any normal day, the villagers have to come outside the island to meet their basic needs. When the floods come, the island is totally cut-off for about 2 months. The village remains in isolation till the floodwaters recede.

Yesterday was a different experience for Noyonika and Bikash. Yesterday is going to remain in the collective memory of the village for long. When the river is angry, they now have to worry less about the darkness around. Light has come into the village! For the first time.
ESAF staff reached Bakelimobherguri by crossing 2 branches of Brahmaputra and traversing through a jungle. Our staff crossed the Subansiri by ferry, waded across a stretch of Brahmaputra, walked kilometres across a large stretch of land, travelled on a bike, crossed another stretch of Brahmaputra by boat, and made the final stretch by foot to the village, all this by carrying large boxes of solar lamps to lighten Bakelimobherguri island.

Grandfather was happy he was wrong. Noyonika and Bikash are happy they don’t have to sleep in fear anymore. Sure hope was reflected in the eyes of the villagers at the thought that even if the floodwaters rage, the island is going to remain bright.
There was rejoicing at Bakelimobherguri that day for light had come to an island for the first time! The ESAF staff returned with their hearts full least bothered about the arduous journey back to the mainland. There is light everywhere.

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Projects Undertaken

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State Influence

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Directly Benefited

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