(i) Solar Mamas
Solar Mamas, is a 6-month program for grandmothers between the age group of 45 to 50 years. 2700
Women from 96 countries have come over the years to participate in the program. During our visit, 38
Mamas’ from 13 countries, were undergoing training. The participants are trained to make Solar powered
objects like Solar Lamp, Solar torch, Solar powered cooker, Solar water heater etc. The participants are
familiarised with a toolkit over a month, illustrative diagrams and sign language are some of the tools
used to overcome language barriers since the participants are from across the globe.
Interestingly, majority of the women trained through this program-
- Have left their families for the first time in their life
- Do not understand English or the local language at Tilonia,
- Have rarely travelled outside the rural areas from the countries where they belong
- Have to live for 6 months mostly on vegetarian food which they have never done in their lives
Yet, these women persist and each one of them have gone back to their countries to provide electricity to
between 10 to 150 villages
Alumni are running night schools across India and several countries in Africa, Asia and South America
providing multiplier effect as knowledge gets passed on by word of mouth.
We believe this project besides ensuring self-sufficiency in electricity, is playing a critical role to prevent
(ii) Health, Hygiene & Nutrition
Tilonia has developed its in-house capability in pathological tests, dentistry, food and nutrition, family
planning and reproductive health, immunizations, mid-wifery and HIV prevention. It has smartly combined
traditional healing practices with modern science and technology
Achievements in Health, Hygiene & Nutrition
- Training of 2 ladies by Italian Dentists for a span of 6 months. These ladies run a small dental clinic to
conduct dental procedures in Tilonia village equipped with modern infrastructure.
- Polio inflicted 50-year-old person has been trained in Homeopathy medicine. Barefoot has set up
machinery for him to provide curative and preventive treatment.
- Women in the village manufacture sterilised Sanitary Napkins which are sold at Rs2.50 (4 cents) per pad.
Barefoot has set up its own school “Shiksha Niketan School” where 17 Teachers teach 450 Students from
Kindergarten to 8th Grade. Nominal fees of Rs 100 (US$1.5) per child per month is charged.
Inculcating INNOVATION through Schools facilities such as:
- Science lab – Using innovative ways to develop Solar Galaxy models with Clay pots, Functions of lungs
and diaphragm using empty bulbs and balloons. The science lab tools have been developed by the
science teacher Mr.Durga Singh Ji. Interestingly, Mr. Durga Singh Ji proficiency in science has been
achieved despite his formal education till 9th grade. Additionally, we met a US educated engineer who
was volunteering under Mr.Durga Singh Ji so that she could learn innovations being undertaken at the
- Computer lab & Library – A 25 Computers lab with good wifi connectivity managed by Ms.Monica &
Ms.Pushpa – 2 girls of the second generation. Both studied higher education at Jaipur and came back to
settle at Tilonia with their parents.
In 2008, Tilonia launched its own Community Radio “90.4” used for communicating with more than 30
nearby villages. The barefoot architect, Mr.Bhawar Ji, has created a very cost effective Radio Studio with
the use of discarded egg carrying trays which insulate the studio from Sound and Heat.
Interestingly, Bhawar Ji was short listed for the global Aga khan Award for Architects despite him not being
formally educated as an architect. Bhawar Ji has constructed the entire Barefoot college structures at $2.5
per square feet cost of construction.
Barefoot has created a team of traditional musicians, puppeteers and storytellers for effective
communication with the external world. Barefoot uses the ancient Rajasthani art of “puppet making” to
stage entertaining, educational skits that teach villagers about their rights. These skits open the door for
discussions about socioeconomic issues such as caste, gender, labor, and women’s and children’s rights,
and also address community issues like water, sanitation, waste and environmental sustainability..
Combating Water Scarcity by inculcating water harvesting and addressing the quality of water with very
Barefoot provides materials as well as training to rural artisans to produce clothing, accessories, furniture,
textiles, educational toys, leather goods, metalwork and handmade paper. Barefoot also assists in
marketing support and credit accessibility in India and Overseas. An online store has also been
created: www.tilonia.com.This provides an opportunity for rural craftspeople to earn an income while
sharing their cultural treasures in the global marketplace.
(vii) Barefoot Engineering Workshop
An in-house engineering workshop to promote self-sufficiency in engineering and design capability. More
importantly, it plays a very critical role in enabling local innovations.
It is inspiring to see these glorious developments happening in our country, not in our backyard,
rather “next to us”.