Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sri Lanka wins the BBC world challenge 2009 prize besting 900 entries “The winner of World Challenge 09 is:Bright Idea: Safe Bottle Lamp Foundation, Sri Lanka, which distributes safe, virtually unbreakable kerosene lamps to those who can’t afford electricity. The Safe Bottle Lamp Foundation received a $20,000 grant from Shell to invest in the future of the project.

This foundation set up by Dr.Wijaya Godakumbura a surgeon has developed this safe bottle lamp using a relatively unbreakable bottle with a low center of gravity, and by its widespread use in Sri Lanka has enabled many a person to be saved from severe burns or even death.

I am probably the only blogger (on the face of the earth!) who currently uses at least 5 of these bottle lamps at present as I do not have electricity in my Raja Ela, Hingurakgoda, property or in my Ratmale, Minneriya lodge ( which are both in the Polonnaruwa District. Just to add my two cents to this story, what I would like to say is that either a hurricane lantern or the chimney lamp are inferior to the bottle lamp! I have used both, and found the hurricane lantern, and the chimney type, I have used, malfunction and have to be cleaned daily, and the latter has also cracked as the quality of the glass is also too delicate. Additionally they too are prone to accidentally topple over despite not having a naked light, and then the kerosene spills causing a fire. The bottle lamp has a naked flame that withstands a relatively decent degree of wind, and I have occasionally to shield them from high winds during the May to October windy season in Polonnaruwa.

In my experience they have never toppled over while lit, but in the clumsy occasions I have even managed that when they are put away during the day, they do not leak the kerosene on toppling as the screw top and the tight squeeze of the wick through the small tube in the middle prevents spillage.

I will try and get a photo of my bottle lamp in due course to include in the blog. So when I sometimes have referred in my blog to typing these entries in the dark, it is with a bottle lamp on either side of the laptop! Before any of you critics take me to task about the burning of fossil fuel, please spare a thought for the fact that I have not been able to set aside sufficient funds to get solar energy to light up my place. Once that is set up in the future I will have to protect the solar cells wherever they are placed from the ravages of the packs of monkeys who have destroyed solar cells of people I know by jumping on to them either on the roofs or on separate towers set up to avoid the monkey menace, where they actually climb the barbed wire ringed post to get to the top to investigate this curious cell!! But that is fodder for another future story.

I therefore sincerely commend the foundation on this win which has received very little publicity in the land of its invention, and am grateful to them in making my life a little easier and in being able to bring some of my stories to you my readers during moments of darkness where all I have is a bottle lamp with a naked flame and the laptop for company.


Rajaratarala said...

I meant to add this postscript but forgot. I actually met Dr Godakumbura at least 6 years ago and I cannot remember whether it was in the UK or USA where he was collecting funds to be able to provide these bottles free of charge to the poor in Sri Lanka. At that time I would never have even dreamed that I would be one who would be an active daily user of his lamp for my own personal benefit!!! So spare a thought to what might be to any of you one day and help him in his cause. Its a life saved or one burn injury less.

Anonymous said...

interesting post. how about a story about how rural folks are participating in electoral politics,,,

Kirigalpoththa said...

Great to hear that..:)

I too voted him!

I'd like to see Dr Godakumbura evolve his ideas from kerosene lamp to Dlight type products..

Anonymous said...


It's really too bad that you are unable to update your blog more regularly. I personally find it frustrating when I repeatedly check your blog for updates and find the same old story 90 percent of the time.

I suspect you don't have the proper incentive to spend time to think about and write your stories. It's a shame.

You should have some advertisements on your site, or some other means to compensate you (and hence motivate you) for regular blogging.

Everyone is losing by you not blogging.

Good luck.

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