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One of the challenges of the Light for All Program was to bring electric power to indigenous communities without interfering in their culture, traditions, way of being or thinking. An agreement between the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) with the National Indian Foundation (Funai) allows the beneficiaries receive instructions on how to use electricity rationally and safely in booklets published in Portuguese and in the native languages of each people in schools in the Terena, Guarani and Kaiowá Kaingang villages.
According to data from the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), about 35,000 indigenous families (180,000 people) have watched as electricity came to their villages. Along with it came refrigerators, which store health vaccines and serum against poisonous animals. Irrigation equipment also arrived, to ensure the production of maize and cassava. Even computers arrived, such as the ones at the Campestre village school in Antônio João (MS), which students for study and entertainment, laughing and conversing like any children – except it is in the Guaraní language.
More than 29,000 families (about 150,000 people) living in communities of descendants of escaped slaves (quilombolas) have benefited from the Light for All Program, according to the MME. Exit darkness, enter the electric light — and with it the refrigerator, television, fans ... In the municipality of Alcantara (MA), the largest area with such communities, the appliance stores sold more than ever before. In the Arenhengaua community, small merchant Antonio Coelho, who in time of darkness could only sell cakes and biscuits, now displays promotions for meat, ice cream and cold beer. "Today I can say that I have a business. With electricity, everything became much easier, " he says.
• Program brings health and education to quilombola community in the municipality of Tapecuru- Mirim and Ilha Grande community in Maranhão
Light for All has benefited 228,000 families (more than 1 million people) who live and work in agrarian reform settlements. The electricity generates income and improves their quality of life. In the Colônia 2 settlement in the municipality of Padre Bernardo (GO), for example, irrigated agriculture increased productivity and household incomes. In a settlement in Itamarati, in Ponta Porã (MS), the milk cooling tanks ended product loss and damage. "Previously, we had to pick up the milk every day and go knocking from house to house to sell it before it spoiled," recalls small dairy farmer Ildo Teixeira da Silva without a trace of nostalgia.
The Light for All program brings electricity and dignity wherever the people are found. No matter the cost or logistical difficulties. No less than 90,000 meters of underwater cable today is immersed in the sea and rivers, illuminating islands and other remote regions. New technologies have been developed, such as polyester resin poles reinforced with fiberglass, five times lighter than conventional poles, they reach places that previously seemed impossible to serve, floating in river waters or hoisted by helicopters. For these and other reasons, the Light for All program is considered the most ambitious electricity expansion program ever implemented anywhere in the world.
• See how the Light for All Program arrived at Ilha das Araras, in Pará
• The challenges of bringing electricity to Lago do Curiã (RO) and Serra do Cafundó (CE)