GENERAL SANTOS CITY – PHILIPPINES
Thousands of households in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will switch on their solar-powered lights Saturday in celebration of a Muslim festival, organizers said yesterday.
These households are from communities who benefited from the Alliance for Mindanao Off-grid Renewable Energy (Amore), a program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
This will be the second time that beneficiaries in the five-province autonomous Muslim region will hold the light festival in observance of the Lailatul Qadr, or the night of honor and dignity.
Lailatul Qadr is one of the holiest and blessed nights among Muslims occurring in one of the odd nights on the last 10 days of the fasting month of Ramadan.
The Islamic faithful believes that it was this night in which the first divine revelation came to Prophet Mohammad when he was in prayer in the cave of Hira.
Techie Cruz-Capellan, Amore chief of party, said that the festival aims to foster awareness about the value of light to peace and development in Mindanao.
Ms. Capellan said, aside from observing the Lailatul Qadr, almost 12,000 households in 400 villages scattered in the autonomous Muslim region will switch on their solar-powered lights to also commemorate their improved quality of life.
“This ceremonial switch-on, especially during Ramadan, aims at blending the importance of light not only to their well-being but also to their spirituality.
“Since we started the light festival, we noticed that people who benefited from the project have a deeper sense of ownership of the facility,” Ms. Capellan said.
ARMM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan will lead the ceremonial switch-on of solar-powered lights. He earlier said that the electrification project helped improve the productivity of mostly poor families who were used to kerosene lamps.
Amore is a program for off-grid villages of Mindanao. It is implemented by an alliance of USAID, Department of Energy, the ARMM government and Winrock International.
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