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Barefoot College: Sneak Peek at one of our Brand Partners!

Barefoot “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi Barefoot College is an organization based on Gandhi’s philosophy that each village should be self- reliant. The organization empowers and uplifts people of rural villages with education, skill development, healthcare and solar power for electricity. Barefoot was started in 1965 by Sanjit “Bunker” Roy when he was a post-graduate student at Delhi University volunteering his summer to work with a famine affected village in one of the poorest states of India. He was inspired by his experience and determined to find better ways to fight poverty and inequality. He started SWRC (Social Works and Research Centre) with the idea that there could be a relationship between a professional and a villager built on mutual respect. In the early stages of SWRC the “professionals” were economists, doctors, geologists and social workers. The SWRC’s mission started with a focus on water and irrigation and soon became focused on the empowerment of the villagers and sustainability. They questioned the way basic needs were met and sought out more efficient development programs. “For instance, did you need an engineer to repair a hand pump? Cannot midwives be trained to literally deliver better? Could not the rich traditional folk arts and music be used for development communication?” The rural illiterate youth began taking charge of planning and initiating ideas and the SWRC became the Barefoot College. “All over the world the rural poor walk Barefoot. It is a symbol that we elevate to bring attention to the focus of everything we do. The College believes that for any rural development activity to be successful and sustainable, it must be based in the village as well as managed and owned by those whom it serves.” Today, Bunker Roy is still the Director of Barefoot College. The College teaches primarily women (illiterate and semi literate) from poor villages skills such as building and repairing solar lamps and water pumps. Once the women complete training, they take their new skills back home where they are in charge of maintaining and repairing the energy and water systems in their village. Empowering these women with leadership and technical skills to make a difference in their community leads to better health, education and an entrepreneurial spirit.  “Solar electrification is an issue that affects the developing world in ways that are unimaginable to people in first world countries.  When first introduced to the Barefoot College, we learned that there was a rural African village where rape was prevalent when women went to get water from a communal well for their families.  After the installation of solar panels and lighting along the path to the wells, the incidence of rape dropped tremendously to almost non-existent numbers.  These women no longer feared the path to fresh drinking water for cooking and sustenance for their families.  The ability to alter the lives of women and children in rural areas that we, in the Western world, would normally never have access to or the ability to help is what makes this an important organization for Temple Flower to support.  Lighting up the world is very ​important concept for Temple Flower in that we have created exclusive vibrant and electrifying prints for our active wear, tying them closely to the colors and vibrancy of the South Asian culture. We have chosen to partner with an organization that exemplifies this commitment to lighting up the world in a parallel context. Barefoot College educates grandmothers in the field of solar electrification, and these dynamic women take their knowledge back to their villages to brighten and light up their families and communities.”     -Neesha Sodha (Co-founder and CEO of Temple Flower)  

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