D-TEC: Lighting Up the Lives of Underserved People

Nanay Rosita’s Nocturnal Predicament

In a makeshift hut during nighttime, Nanay Rosita Rosas used to grope for things she badly needed for her frail and aging self. Darkness coupled with eyesight problem due to aging had hampered her for many years to right away look for and do things that could bring a little comfort to herself during nighttime after a day-long toil in a farm lot nearby a fishing community she is presently living in.

But in that evening of March 11 this year, a marked change came to her life. For the first time in her 76 years of existence in that not-so-tiny island of Iniwaran in San Pascual, Masbate, the widowed Nanay Rosita was finally able to see brightness almost entirely filling the hut she has been sharing with her younger female cousin. This was when some staff of D-TEC Solutions, Inc. a Makati-based social enterprise, came to that hut, which is made of cut tree branches and coconut leaves, to give for free a solar kit that can light up the hut and the adjacent hut of her cousin’s daughter for ten years.

Nanay Rosita could hardly contain her gratitude as she genially told the visiting D-TEC staff in their community dialect

“Daghan kaayong salamat! (“Thank you so much!”).

That earnest “thank you so much” remark, which was punctuated by Nanay Rosita’s swelling tears, all the more became pronounced and repetitive when the solar kit was installed even as bright lights supplanted the thick darkness that had made the hut cheerless for the past years.

At long last, the hosts’ smiles were no longer concealed by the dim night as Nanay Rosita and her cousin, who just made do of kerosene lamps before, beamingly gazed at the solar lights hanging from the ceiling of the already visible interior of the hut. It didn’t matter for them at that moment if what they could show was only a humble hut. What was important for them was that they would no longer grope in the dark.

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D-TEC Making An Impact on the Underserved

But it mattered a lot for the visiting five-person D-TEC staff to witness how poverty has denied countless people like Nanay Rosita of life’s basic necessities which include clean water and eco-friendly lights.

As brightness has also come upon three more huts through solar kits installations in that off-grid island, the said D-TEC staff have doubly realized that there is a serious need to intensify change-making efforts to uplift the lot of underserved people like Nanay Rosita.  Thousands more are needing life-altering help, so to speak.

“D-TEC, as a social enterprise, is made to recognize that its very existence is grounded on the prevalence of rampant poverty challenges confronting the people,” Dave Ariss Balino, D-TEC president and founder, said.

Balino said that in the conception and eventual establishment of D-TEC in 2013, foremost in his mind was “to take the company along the path of social entrepreneurship by making it as a pro-employee one.” This means, he added, that “employees would be significantly made as one of the company’s major stakeholders.”

But along the way, Balino and his D-TEC colleagues have realized that “something more has to be done in order to firm up the mission-driven character of the company.”

“Aside from turning the employees into one of the enterprise’s major stakeholders, we have made certain that our product and service offerings are most of all adaptive to the needs of the people” Balino said.

Balino, an electronics engineer by profession, said that

“a turning point has happened (in the enterprise) when it has pivoted from simply an automation and auxiliary provider to that of being a pioneer in one-stop and integrated automation, power, water and other innovative technological solutions in the Philippines.”

Characterizing further the purpose-oriented nature of the enterprise is the creation of social programs of D-TEC namely BigFut and Solutions4All, Balino said.

He said that BigFut was conceived

“to empower the out-of-school youth through entrepreneurial undertakings and employment”

while Solutions4All was formed

“to fill the gaps in the country’s social services by providing underserved communities vital solutions to their social problems especially power and water solutions.”

The Solutions4All Program Serving Nanay Rosita and the Underserved

Balino revealed that while a portion of the D-TEC’s profit goes to the Solutions4All program, augmentations of power and water solutions through donations, for instance, are still wanting.  A lot more Nanay Rositas, he said, are “out there waiting for benevolent hands” to reach out to them.

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Balino said that

“there is a pressing need to equip and empower communities with clean power and clean water technologies” in the light that “these are being rendered unavailable” for a number of Filipinos especially those living in far-flung areas.

Reports have it that around 9 million Filipinos nationwide rely on unsafe water sources while 16 million residents do not have access to electricity. It is thus no longer surprising that unsafe water sources alongside inaccessible power sources have resulted to other social problems such as health hazards, low productivity, slumping of literacy rate, among others, reports say.

Borne out of such context, D-TEC’s Solutions4All program was begun in the island of Iniwaran where a number of residents, for some reasons, have not been made beneficiaries of solar power installations lately undertaken by a foundation in collaboration with the local government and other top village officials.

Balino said that the goal of Solutions4All program for the island of Iniwaran, which has a population of more than two thousand, is to donate around 500 Solar Home Kits

“to cover a significant portion of the residents there.”

The program is also to be jumpstarted with the donation of water purifiers for the residents who, due to lack of safe water sources, are compelled to buy potable water from the town of San Pascual which is 45-minute boat ride away from the island.

Balino, however, said that D-TEC’s Solutions4All program does away with mere donations as it promotes resource-sharing with its stakeholders and the community as a whole.  This means, Balino said, that residents are urged to actively partake in village civic activities as “their counterpart” for the donations given to them.

Residents, Balino added, are also encouraged to form cooperatives in order for them to get hold of technological solutions they need to uplift their economic and social well-being.

True, Nanay Rosita and her female cousin may have been fortunate to have experienced a little joy and comfort in their lifetime. But many more underserved and poverty-stricken people are always ready to welcome changemakers like D-TEC to create an impact on their lives.

Nanay Rosita These Days

Such creation of impact has already been felt by Nanay Rosita and her female cousin these days. Just two weeks after the installation of the solar power kit in their house, Nanay Rosita said she and her cousin do not anymore feel unburdened in the night.

“Makakita na mi!” (“We can already see in the night!”),

Nanay Rosita told D-TEC through a phone call made by the latter via a resident in the island.

Aside from “already seeing in the night,” Nanay Rosita, who has had eleven married children living on their own as either fishermen or farm workers, said she can now jot down her daily farm produce. Significantly, she can now make some notes of her own productivity as she can already account for her harvest of sweet potatoes, cassava, corn, and other crops from her leased farm lot.

“Malipayon na” (“We are happy now”),

she said, adding that visitations in their house have now become more and more frequent at night. The jolly Nanay Rosita was even engaging in some moments of banter with D-TEC as she jested with infectious laughter:

“Puyde na modawat og mangulitawo!” (“I can now accept suitors in the evening!”).

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