I'm Syeda Iqra Urooj, a 16 year old science aspirant who aims to change and develop my country in a technological way. It all started when I was in class 8th, 14 year old willing to turn something ordinary into extraordinary. All I had in my mind was to use a scientific natural resource to help the street vendors. Here is how I came across the idea of inventing a Miracle Umbrella.
On one sunny day, I had accompanied my mother to buy some groceries. Apart from just shopping, my inquisitive eyes were busy observing the surroundings with keen interest which I usually do. In between looking at all the diverse variety of commodities lined up along both sides of the road, something, or should I say, someone caught my eye.
I’ll give you a hint.
You can see them sitting on the footpaths, in the marketplaces, by the parks and many more places. You can hear them distinctly yelling out, screaming, calling to every passerby and inviting them to come and buy their goods. You can find them roaming around, in the scorching sun, tired and sweaty and still if you go to any one of them, you will be greeted with a warm smile and with high enthusiasm. They will never let their fatigue be visible on their faces.
I am sure all of you have already gotten an idea about who I have been describing all this time now.Yes. Street Vendors.
Each one of these street vendors at the market was sweating it out under the hot sun without letting their energy level drop any time soon. That was surprising to me! How can any human being be in possession of such high enthusiasm even when the sun is sucking out all the energy from them?
Imagine how painful it would be to sit under the scorching sun for hours at a stretch, waiting for customers to come and empty the baskets.
After all, they also have to make a living for themselves right?
This provoked me. I felt I had to do something to make their lives more convenient, however I wasn’t sure what that would be. This thought kept hovering my mind, and right then and there something ordinarily extraordinary happened.
I saw an umbrella in one of the street corners at the very same market. That may not seem so interesting. At this moment, I did not know that the ordinary umbrella I was looking at would end up becoming a major part of my innovation very soon.
Let’s look at the bigger picture here.
Street vendors are continuously exposed to working under direct sunlight for prolonged hours. Prolong exposure to sun has many health implications. Long term unprotected exposure to the Ultraviolet light from sun can damage the eye’s retina. The human body responds to heat by losing excess water and salt leading to heat exhaustion. And if heat exhaustion is left untreated then that can turn fatal by leading to a heat stroke. Other than these, many another health effects like skin cancer,heat rash, sunburn, faster ageing etc also can happen.
According to the National Sample Survey Office’s data of 2011-12, there is approximately a total of 3.33 million street vendors in both rural and urban areas combined. As per the reports of Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation, there are over 10 million street vendors in India contributing to over 50% of country’s savings. These statistical figures demonstrate that street vendors are an integral part of our Indian economy.
So if they are an integral part of our nation, then, shouldn’t we do something to address to the difficulties they face on a daily basis?
That night when I got back home I recalled my visit to the market earlier that day. Vendors were sitting under umbrellas and selling their goods. They sought for shelter under the shades of the umbrellas. This got me thinking, if an umbrella can give shelter and comfort to the vendors then can it do anything more? Imagine if the umbrella, along with providing shade could also give cool breeze on a hot day and have lights for the vendors when they work at night.
We see solar energy being used for homes, vehicles, cookers etc. Hence, energy shouldn’t be a concern if lights and fans were to work in the umbrella. Umbrella would always be exposed to ample amount of sunlight which can be converted into electrical energy.
I started researching if an umbrella which had similar features already existed in the market. When I failed to find anything even remotely close to my idea, I told my parents about that I would like to design an umbrella which would have both lights and fans.
It took some time for me to collect the required items needed to make idea turn into a reality. I have always been inclined towards the field of science and conducting various types of experiments hence going ahead with this basic plan wasn’t a tough thing to do.
I began collecting small things which are available in almost every household like a CPU fan and LED lights which I had previously used for my science experiments . Then I procured some solar panels in order to store the solar energy and convert the same into electrical energy. Along with solar panels, I got two 6 volt batteries for storage of energy.
This was the time when a new technology, an old problem and a big idea turned into an innovation.
If you are thinking, How did I learn to operate and work on these things. I learnt them all at home on my own in my free time. Science always intrigued me.
But the entire process of making the umbrella was not as easy as learning how to operate these materials.
Knowing how to operate these pieces separately was an easy task. Assembling them and making them work together as a complete unit was a different scenario altogether.
I used to come back from school and devote more than three hours of my time in making the features in the umbrella work. I failed many a times while assembling and making the umbrella work. Sometimes the fans weren’t working or the lights weren’t bright enough and this continued on for multiple times. This went on for 3 weeks. Yet I did not let these trivial failures stop me from fulfilling my dream of helping the street vendors.