Sunday, April 19, 2015

A visit to Barefoot College

Of all our visits to different NGO's and schools, I picked to share my experience at Barefoot Collage.
Before I even decided to come to India I watched a TED talk by the founder Bunker Roy. To come and see the place in real life was so surreal. If you haven't seen this TED talk yet you can watch it underneath:

We spent one and a half day here and got to see all the different departments. To my surprise, Barefoot is more then just a place for women to become solar engineers- it has great diversity of work.

For example, they have people from Barefoot who do Puppet Shows in the villages, where they use this form of medium, which is an ancient Indian tradition, to tell stories. However, it is not random what these stories are about. They use the stories to make people think about deeper questions and make people talk about different social issues. One man explained, "I can tell these stories to all. To literate people and to non-literate people. This is what I do."

They also had a night school for children, a center for frugal innovation (to make use of all the things we usually throw away), toy making unit, a mosquito net and sanitation napkins making units and a water testing unit (they work in 200 villages). 

Their biggest success have been changing the mindset of people. Changing the mindset of the government and showing people that if you can work- you can make a change. It was also pointed out that education does not have to happen in a classroom but can be done outside in a variety of ways as well. 

Barefoot Collage does not go into areas and give the communities things. They work with the communities to show them how they themselves can manage. One man explained, "we might argue and disagree with community members but we still support them. It is through this continued work with the communities that long lasting change will happen."

On campus

World Map of Hope- Loved this!

Barefoot Collage Campus

These women know how to make and operate these solar cookers. They are a total of 13 women working on this. It is not normal for the women here to work outside the home but they have personally deconstructed the typical gender stereo types that are engraved in society. They wish to popularize this technology and have more women step forward and to the same work they do.

The women sharing their ideas, thoughts and future hopes for their kids.

They have a radio shack where people can call in and talk about social issues and it is broad casted on the radio. Topics that are usually brought up is community rights, employment, compensation, minimum wages, sexual violence etc.

This is the women's training workshop. By the end they will be solar engineers and will go back to their home country and continue their work there. They just arrived a couple of days ago and are in this picture learning the names of the different parts. They don't speak English and don't have any common language but are still able to learn. Incredibly inspiring and amazing to see.
Night time activities in our room at Barefoot.

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