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Earth’s Solar Women

India’s “Barefoot Engineers” Light Up The World

45quote_solarengineersThe Barefoot College in northern India teaches women skills to bring solar power to their villages and to manage the energy system in rural areas.

The students are mostly women. Some are grandmothers. Hundreds have come here from villages across India and a dozen other countries to learn how to install and maintain solar energy systems in rural areas.

Even though it’s sophisticated coursework, the only prerequisite for admission to the Barefoot College is that there are no prerequisites, not even to speak the language.

barefoot-news-worker1Our job is to show how it is possible to take an illiterate woman and make her into an engineer in six months and show that she can solar-electrify a village. Explains Bunker Roy, founder of Barefoot College. Roy founded the Barefoot College in 1972, looking to use traditional knowledge and sustainable technology to help this impoverished desert region.

It began with basics, like finding safe drinking water, then a few years later, solar. In the classroom, run by instructors who themselves have little or no formal education. Instruction is delivered with a mix of body language, a few essential terms in English, and a lot of hands-on practice.

solar-panels-india-080808Using grants from the U.N. and private foundations, Bunker Roy travels extensively in developing countries, seeking potential students. The ones he does not want are city dwellers and, unless they’re physically handicapped, men.

These women are used to transcending their circumstances and are exceptional at being “barefoot solar engineers” who bring solar-powered light to rural India.

wfs122aDuring a trip they took to the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, they cut their way through dense jungles, venturing into remote areas where no government official would go. There, the team trained two women chosen from each nearby village at a workshop in the city of Hyderabad the trainees who in turn taught others in their villages to construct and run solar energy units. One hundred batteries, hung on long poles, were carried through the 20-kilometer-long mud paths to the main post office servicing the region’s villages, and that became the battery pickup location. The team then visited each village in turn, training women to install the units. Adequate spares were left to replace damaged or worn parts, and a workshop for maintenance was set up at a central locale. In all, the team brought electric light to 200 homes, and ensured that village women learned how to maintain the electrification project after they left.

I found myself torn between shouting out with pride for these women and humbled to tears, while writing this, either way the goose-bumps are still on my arms. One thing is for sure, I will never again be upset over a flat tire or any hiccups life may send my way, so help me God.

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No Responses to “Earth’s Solar Women”

  1. Says:

    Earth’s Solar Women | Forced Green…

    The Barefoot College in northern India teaches women skills to bring solar power to their villages and to manage the energy system in rural areas….

  2. Heath Says:

    That is awesome.

  3. Sen and Qi Says:

    Gosh I would love to do that! Unfortunatley being a city dweller makes me not eligible lol. Good for these women to get the training and also it boosts their self esteem. We need more money and effort to be put into projects like this. I just started a green section now on my blog so hope to include great stories like this. I posted a vid on Sqip about the Songhai project in Africa, that is awesome too. I am revamping some of it. Will send you a mail later,.

    Sen and Qis last blog post..Updating the Biz resources section.

  4. Barbara Says:

    What a wonderful program, and a great self -esteem boost for these women!

    Barbaras last blog post..Relax With Barbara On Wednesday 40

  5. Linda Says:

    Hi Heath …. it is ! 🙂

  6. Linda Says:

    Hi Qi … That is great! There is so much help going into countries like India and Africa that are green alternatives to help improve their lives. I just love it!

  7. Linda Says:

    Hi Barbara … They are the engineers that will maintain their new solar setups! So much confidence they have for the future!

  8. IM Product Niches Says:

    WOW! they are the heroes of today!

    IM Product Nichess last blog post..FREE Webmasters Resource Kit

  9. Solo Ad Explosion Says:

    Just love this! Such a great way to learn along with receive the benefits of solar energy.

    Solo Ad Explosions last blog post..The Keys to Budget-Based Lead Generation

  10. psyche Says:

    I bet not just self-esteem but the esteem others must give them due to the skills they alone have.

    psyches last blog post..Heh

  11. yanjiaren Says:

    Hello Linda. Just wanted to let you know I have gotten over the nasty flu and done two vids for you on youtube. I will be posting you the links later. I already did on on my blog so you can check it out but will email you in detail tomorrow once I edit the second one. Have a great day and looking forward to your next post.

    yanjiarens last blog post..Tutorial: How to shrink your urls with linkbucks

  12. czaroma Says:

    This is a great program as the rural areas in India would benefit from solar energy.

    czaromas last blog post..Angelina Jolie Tops Forbes’ Celebrity 100; Pacquiao at 57th Spot

  13. Linda Says:

    Hi Solo … It certainly is and lasting as well!

  14. Linda Says:

    Hi psyche … you betcha! I am sure they are considered leaders in their villages as well.

  15. wilson Says:

    My salutation and respect to those women! They’re not only hardworking and tough, but they’ve also shown us the positive virtue on how to show our love to the Earth, Linda.

    wilsons last blog post..Low Sugar Diet Can Really Prevent Diabetes?

  16. Linda Says:

    Hi Wilson … That is really great! Thank you for them! 🙂

  17. ConnieFoggles Says:

    What a wonderful program! It helps the environment and provides training and confidence for woman who deserve it. Are they able to earn money from this work after their training?

    ConnieFoggless last blog post..Winner Souplantation Sweet Tomatoes Meal Passes

  18. Linda Says:

    Hi Connie … I am not sure that they do. However, they are certainly the experts for that village. I am sure that there is something they receive for their efforts.

  19. Diane Scott Says:

    So why can’t WE seem to get our collective buns in gear and get something like this done? Shame on us! BTW, I Stumbled you 🙂

    Diane Scotts last blog post..Step By Step How To Make Your Own Money Online

  20. Linda Says:

    Hi Diane … Makes you wonder, doesn’t it! thank you! 🙂

  21. GoSolarNow Says:

    This is the kind of news that makes me more hopeful about the future of our world. Empowering people to do something themselves rather than relying on “the government”, etc. – that is the way to go!
    Also shows how solar power, despite being still though of as “expensive”, is gaining momentum in unlikely places like rural India.

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