Leela Devi :: Solar Lighting Engineer.
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I am a teacher and a student and a student and a teacher.
My husband used to work at the College. I came along with him.
Our parents arranged our marriage long before my husband started his further studies. At that time there was no item of getting a more educated wife. His family liked me and my family liked him for me. The education-level difference between us was no point, as the arrangement was not based on education. Now I can discuss problems with my husband. He’s very supportive. If I don’t understand something he explains me.
I started to work in the handicraft section before I asked myself to be transferred to the solar department. I wanted to learn something new, completely different from what I used to do. Stitching every woman can do. But solar was completely new when I came here. In the beginning I never thought I would never be able to understand it, but now I feel very comfortable and I like doing it.
I came here as a student and now I’m a teacher and it feels great to teach something that I learnt for so many years. I teach the Buthanese girls in sign language and we work with the color codes for the resistors and capacitors. That’s the easiest way to start. But sometimes they even don’t understand the names of the colors. Than we have to point to the clothes we are wearing to tell them about hindi or english words. They learn us the Buthanese word in return. In their language red is ‘rato’.
Up till now I did not have the opportunity to travel abroad to my students countries, but of course I’m very interested in their land and their habits and once I would like to go and see.
I’m prepared to work at other places but only if the College sends me there and if it’s related to Barefoot. I don’t want to leave here. We’ve put up 5 solar systems in my village, and if it needs maintenance or reparations I take care of it. I would love to learn about the solar cookers too. But as teacher and trainer for the solar workshops I have a lot of work. We have many students, so there is no time for me to follow an extra training for the moment. But if they need help at the solar cooker section, and if I have the time, I go and give them a hand.
Since the beginning of the campus there has been a lot of changes in habits and in interaction. For myself I can say that I’m educated now, this is the biggest change for me compared to before.
Once the women get a paid job they become independent and that’s the argument Barefoot uses to convince women to come here. The number of women increased a lot the past 5 years and the women ratio will even grew if there are more jobs available for women. They are motivated by the staff of the college. They are explained that men and women are equal and both of them can do these jobs.
I like the fact to meet all these different people from different places. From small villages and from other countries. To discuss with them, to teach them about solar energy.
The Barefoot project started very small and now it grew out in such a big campus. People can come up with propositions for new trainings and there are a lot more people interested.