Solar panels are helping Rohingya lives


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Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | December 28th, 2017

The Rohingya people are using portable solar panels to improve their otherwise drastic situation.

Muslim Rohingya refugees have been fleeing violence and unrest in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh, moving in droves. The persecution of the Myanmar minority group has escalated and forced many to evacuate, a situation that has only worsened in the past four months. With few belongings and family members to watch over, many of the refugees have little to their name; those who have lost loved ones have only images and videos on cell phones as a reminder of their loss.

But with tragedy comes strength and resourcefulness, and the Rohingya have found ways to make their lives of uncertainty more survivable.

The trek to Bangladesh from Myanmar is a dangerous one, mostly navigated on foot and taking around two weeks for some to finish. Many families bring their solar panels along, tied to their backs or bags. As heavy and cumbersome as solar panels can be, they are the primary source of electricity in native Rohingya-occupied areas, where the Myanmar government has not provided any semblance of electric infrastructure.

As the minority group flees to safety, the panels become even more vital, providing light and charging phones in rough campsites set up by the survivors. Most small panels cost around $15. While the price tag is large for those with little money, the value of a solar panel is indispensable.

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