Parvati’s parents arranged her marriage when she was just four years old. When she was 14 she wed her husband. That was nearly 40 years ago. Together they have seven children—five girls and two boys. Her youngest daughter is in 10th grade and her next-oldest daughter is finishing up a bachelor’s of arts degree at an undergraduate program in India. Parvati herself has no education and is very proud of the fact that she has learned to sign her name.
Parvati grew up in poverty and her marital home was also poor. Over time, however, her conditions have improved. To earn their livelihood, Parvati works in her fields and owns some cattle; her husband works in a brick kiln. They live with their younger children in a two-room house in the hamlet of Tomar Purva, which lies in the Bahadurpur Block within the state of Uttar Pradesh, about 75 miles from the state capital of Lucknow. One room in the house has a concrete roof, while the other room and kitchen have thatch roofs. Parvati’s youngest daughter complains that things are difficult to manage when it rains.
Parvati’s house was one of the few that we encountered that was not connected to the electric utility and, thus, significantly benefited from the Hans Free Electric™ bike. Her youngest daughter pedals the bike as part of her morning chores, typically for two hours to charge the battery. The household uses the bike mostly for light so that the children can study at night. Parvati also uses it to finish her fieldwork. The day we interviewed her, she was planning to take one of the bulbs to her field to plant potatoes after dark. They also have an “emergency light,” which they charge with the bike and can carry around the house and outside.
Parvati’s experience, especially with respect to the need for portable lighting, informed the design of the Hans Free Electric™ Power Pack. The Power Pack, which replaces the battery, will serve as an all-in-one product, complete with built-in lights and a USB port. The Power Pack will come standard with each Hans Free Electric™ bike and will also be available as a stand-alone device.