At Paper High, we’re always on the lookout for new and innovative projects to support, and it’s fair to say that you’re onto a winner when the Dalai Lama thinks so too! He recently paid a visit to the Barefoot College in India, and the reason why is clear when you look at the amazing work that is carried out by the organisation. It all began in 1972 when educated professionals decided to extend the opportunities that they had received in the urban cities to the communities living in the rural areas.
The communities in these areas often suffered from poverty as those who were lucky enough to receive an education were forced to move into cities to seek employment. This left the rural communities becoming socially marginalised exploited and economically neglected.
When the Barefoot College was set up in Rajasthan, it aimed to bring employment and educational opportunities to these areas through social and community development. Based on the wisdom of Gandhi that skills from the village should be used before consulting outside knowledge, the college was built by and exclusively for the poor in the community. This was a novel way of integrating modern approaches with the existing, traditional knowledge of the rural communities. This supported the people in Rajasthan who had previously struggled to survive into creating their own long-term, sustainable solution to the problem.
Since the 70s, the work has gone from strength to strength with a large campus still in the original site in Rajasthan. Their work seeks to empower the local rural community still by building homes for the homeless, collecting water for those who do not have a proper source of clean water, and providing employment to many members of the community.
Since its conception, the Barefoot College has trained more than 6,525 rural women from poor agricultural areas who would have otherwise been unemployed to become solar engineers, FM radio operators, dentists, masons, artisans, teachers, and midwives. The message that everyone, no matter what caste or class they come from, deserves an education is one that we agree with and wish to spread too.
This is why Paper High stocks the pretty hand-made bell totas and colourful recycled rag rugs that are produced by the artisans at the Barefoot College, as each one we sell actively goes to support the on-going work of the project. Today, it’s hard to find an item, which is so beautifully crafted as well as having such an inspiring story behind it, so we believe in championing the ethos of the company by selling their wonderful products.
If you would like any more information on The Barefoot College you can visit their website at http://www.barefootcollege.org/