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The Points of Light Award recognises inspirational volunteers working tirelessly to forge a brighter future for communities worldwide. Since 2014, the programme has named hundreds of the country’s most impressive volunteers as Points of Light in Britain, and Navjot has just joined that extraordinary list.
The Washing Machine Project was founded in 2019 by ex-Dyson engineer Navjot Sawhney. After leaving Dyson, he moved to South India to develop cookstoves with Engineers Without Borders UK, where he met his neighbour, Divya. Divya’s struggle with everyday tasks inspired Nav to find a solution, and from there, The Washing Machine Project was born. He promised her a practical solution, and he developed the first model prototype when he returned home.
Nav and his team are able to alleviate the burden of handwashing clothes for thousands of women, saving as much as 75% of the time, and 50% of the water. The Divya 1.5 is built specifically to adapt to the challenges of the developing world and is delivered to communities at no cost to the recipient.
The Washing Machine Project has to date, delivered 200+ hand-cranked machines to schools, orphanages, and most recently, refugee camps. In August, the project donated a further six machines to Ukrainian refugees displaced by the Russian invasion.
In a personal letter from the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, Nav was commended for his incredible work:
“You have used your professional skills as an engineer to help thousands of people around the world who don’t have access to electric washing machines.”
“Your innovative, hand-cranked washing machines are giving families the dignity of clean clothes and the time you are saving them is empowering many women who have been held back from education and employment.”
“I know that your machines are also helping Ukrainian families who have been forced to flee their homes and are currently living in humanitarian aid centres. Your ingenuity, compassion, and dedication to improving the lives of others is an inspiration to us all.”
Speaking on the accolade, Nav said, “Winning the Points of Light award and getting recognised by the Prime Minister is a phenomenal privilege. The Washing Machine Project’s mission is to alleviate the burden of unpaid labour, mainly on women and children.”
“I’m so proud that giving back the dignity of clean clothes to those who hand wash them is getting the recognition it deserves. Thank you to our team, volunteers, partners, and beneficiaries who work tirelessly daily to make our mission a success.”
In December 2022, The Washing Machine project also won a coveted SETsquared@20 Impact Award, recognising the project’s positive effect on the environment, economy and society. See the full list of Impact Award winners
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