Bunker Roy is truly a visionary. He’s the now well-known founder of Barefoot College in Tilonia, India. Recently The Good Times had the privilege to meet Bunker and hear about one of his new ideas: Solar Mamas. The initiative provides grandmothers from Africa with training in solar engineering. The women who are sent to Barefoot College for six months to learn how to create solar lighting to bring back to their villages in Africa must be grandmothers and illiterate to qualify for the program. When they come home to their villages, not only do they bring back solar lighting, illuminating homes and providing electricity to their rural communities, they bring back pride and accomplishment, gaining the respect of the villagers. Solar Mamas are role models, changing the way women are viewed by their communities and empowering them within it.
Rightly, Bunker Roy explains that the program redefines literacy and education. “Illiteracy should not be a barrier” to accomplishment and esteem, he says. Solar Mamas are perfect students because, as he explains, “The best part of being illiterate is that you don’t forget.” When the materials and solar panels they made in India arrive back in their communities where they will be assembled, the women know exactly what to do to electrify the village.
Watch the short clip below to get a good picture of this phenomenal project.