Bringing Light to Others: Updates from the Barefoot College Experience

Date: 
Tuesday, January 5, 2016

In India, November 11 marked the beginning of Diwali, the Festival of Lights, when Indian Hindus—and other Hindus around the world—celebrate the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. The festival is evidenced by millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, and around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed.

For the four women from the ACT partner communities in Colombia and Suriname who traveled to Rajasthan, India to attend the Barefoot College Solar Engineering Initiative, Diwali was a time of joy and festivity, where their aspiration to bring light to their community is gradually being realized.

Sadly, it was also a time for sorrow: the husband of one of the representatives from Suriname, Ketoera, passed away in their home village of Tepu. Our friends at Barefoot College and the Surinamese embassy in India were extremely supportive, helping her immediately reach her family.


Anna Nantawi (left) and Ketoera Aparaka (right), indigenous women from Suriname’s rainforest interior on their arrival at the Barefoot College campus in Rajasthan

Throughout their time in India, the Amazonian women—who had never previously left their respective countries—have been working and learning diligently. The two pairs don’t share a language with each other or with their instructors, and are unable to read or write. Thus, they are learning through demonstrations, sign language, and raw determination. Our Barefoot College partners have praised the women’s commitment, focus, and study habits as they learn complex solar panel assembly and installation skills to bring back to their communities. As shown in the following videos, the hands-on curriculum encourages students to learn by doing, building their confidence in their ability to handle a broad range of operational tasks.

The women will continue their studies in Rajasthan through March of 2016 before returning to their communities to apply and transfer their knowledge.

Read other articles about the Barefoot College partnership: