introduction to barefoot college :: 10/01/08

select the flickr-album :: barefoot_college to view pictures
use arrow keys to go back and forth


After the 7.30 am breakfast, chapati’s and chai, Ramniwas takes me on a tour around the new Barefoot Campus. Explaining the Barefoot approach, the 14 programmes, he makes me visit all different sections and introduces me to the people responsible for their section.

Everything starts with a hands on education. Educated people don’t have to be necessarely litterate. One can function on an equal level in society by taking responsability on his/her job in an hands-on way. One of the most important Barefoot approaches to get people aware of their rights and to give them information, is the puppettheatre. By taking these selfmade avatars to the villages, they construct real-life situations to which the villagepeople can actively respond and interact.

Besides education, there’s the healthcare section, the hospital, the mobile laboratory for all kinds of analysis, the midwifes, the nightschools, the library, the audiovisual section, the communication section (silkscreens of banners, posters and other information tools), the waterharvesting section, the solar engineers, the agricultural section and the Rajasthani women handicrafts-shop.

Lunch is served at 12.30 pm. Everybody has to take his/her own plate and get self service. The mess is a huge darkened building with rays of sunlight peeping through small windows. Temperature is tangibly lower than in Bombay, and one needs a woolen shawl at night and early in the morning. All food is very spicy, prepared on a basis of green chilis. The campus runs completely on solar power, there are panels on all rooftops and several control rooms filled with batteries.

A groups of 6 Mauretanian women arrived today to start a six months solar engineer training. I’ll try to follow them. Another group of Bhutanese women (and two man) is already halfway their training.

Dinner is at 7.30pm, and that’s the end of the day. Everybody searches his way to his room on a darkened campus. Luckily all rooms are electrified by solar, so one can rework the audiovisual stuff gathered through daytime. And read. It’s all very quiet, calm and relaxing. It makes me think a little about the silent retreat I once followed in Bodhgaya.
Last night on my arrival I made some soundrecordings of singers, sounds floating into my room from a village faraway, outside the campus. In the morning the birds wake me up, in combination with the horn of the train passing nearby.