How do you create a global movement, when your taskforce can’t read, write or speak a common language?
When I first emailed today’s guest to invite him on the show, this was his reply:
“Totally mystified as to why on earth you want to talk to an old Gandhian living in the middle of the Rajasthan desert?”
This was my email back:
“I can’t think of a better reason to want to talk to you.”
This exchange is the perfect introduction to the humility and humor of Bunker Roy.
Bunker is global changemaker, Founder of the Barefoot College in India and listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. His TED talk ‘Learning from a Barefoot Movement’ has been watched by over 4.5 million people.
The Barefoot College has taught over 3 million mainly illiterate and semi literate rural people (mainly women), from some of the world’s poorest villages, to become teachers, midwives, weavers, architects, and doctors.
This includes training over 1700 grandmothers (or ‘solar mamas’ as they are known within their communities) from rural villages across 95 countries including India, Sierra Leone, Africa, and Afghanistan – to become solar engineers.
These women then go home to their communities and solar electrify their villages, to date powering a total of 60,000 homes and saving more than 1 million litres of kerosene from polluting the environment.
And if that isn’t incredible enough, each one of these solar mammas has been fully trained in under 6 months, using mainly sign language.
This conversation goes in so many different and beautiful directions on the topic of what it takes to influence from a place of both fierce determination and patience.
How going from an elite education to digging wells in the villages of rural India, completely rearranged the course of his life.
Why there are more powerful languages than the spoken word for creating engagement, inclusion and (most surprisingly) highly technical skill.
The power of dignity and autonomy – why a 12 year old girl from a rural village was able to meet a Queen and introduce herself as a Prime Minister
What it takes to build a movement from scratch and sustain momentum for almost fifty years.
And finally, why we need to stop searching for solutions outside ourselves, our communities and our teams and start looking within.
References and links mentioned
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