Posts Tagged ‘Barefoot College’

Barefoot College–The Education of Life Experience

Rural Rajasthan

Rural Rajasthan

For more than 40 years, a group of steadfast individuals in India have endeavored to live, inspire, and uplift while modeling their work on the words of Gandhi. Barefoot College works with the impoverished, exploited, and marginalized poor to teach viable skills to those who don’t have access to learning and livelihood through other avenues. Grandmothers become solar technicians, poor and destitute groups labor together to bring potable water to a community, and many other projects make huge strides toward community health. As an organization that cleaves to local wisdom and traditional ways while infusing individuals with new pride and skill, the College has racked up amazing successes: brought solar power to 1,000 villages; hot water; solar cookers; solar desalinization of drinking water; rainwater harvesting; literacy and hands-on skill training for rural children; night schools; healthcare via 260 Barefoot Doctors; 1,850 rural women employed as artisans and weavers; a community radio station; and a long tradition of social, economic, and political activism.

There are now two campuses in the Rajasthan region, the old campus in a former healthcare center and the new campus built from the ground up by the community. Volunteers from outside the region don’t work directly for the actual organization, but can work in support of the college via 60 local partners. You can also support the work from home via donation (in an amount to purchase a malaria-proof mosquito net, for example, or solar light, or help build a water tank), or by shopping in the cool online store, purchasing some of the products created by this empowered/empowering community.

Barefoot College-Solving Problems from the Inside Out

Solar energy, water, education, health care, rural handicrafts, people’s action, communication, women’s empowerment, wasteland development…they are huge issues, and are being taken on at a grassroots level in rural Indian communities by Barefoot College. Started in the 1960s, it was originally a series of projects by dedicated young professionals who chose to completely immerse themselves in rural villages to learn what the issues were being faced by communities, and to find solutions that spring forth organically from within those communities (instead of an international organization dropping in to tell people what they need). The focus gradually evolved to truly empower the local villagers, and over the decades, projects huge and intimate have moved quality of life forward. Now the vast majority of individuals working with the organization come from within the served communities. They receive training and education to undertake challenges they would not previously have had access to tackling. The dream is to lift individuals and entire villages above the poverty line. This project shows what happens when the very poor are allowed to develop themselves–it is organic and intuitive and supremely sustainable.

Check them out–if you are up to creating change, or simply interested in this day and age of countless NGOs of widely variable effectiveness, ethics, and efficacy, it is nice to see models that have a long history of quiet success.