We would also like to mention that in the first six months of solar training returning home, we have received success stories from some solar engineers who when visited a household to install the solar equipment, also shared information about menstrual health and hygiene, or basic information on household budget making. The trainees in Fiji a larger number of resources to help them share the newly gained knowledge with their church and women groups. We are amazed at the sharing capability of our trainees and are confident that with support coming from the ground partner, they would be reaching to many women leading a community driven change.
Q: I'd support it being brought to life- I think the project is answering women's needs and is thinking about creating a flexible and adaptable program that will work within their lived context is awesome. Again, the how and the lasting nature of it is going to be the big question. But great idea!
--> Is is very important to listen from our ground partners, women facilitators and participants on the how. Through our focus group and user interviews we understood there will not be a “one solution fits all”. Regarding the lasting nature of the program we believe that ownership and internal capacity building are key. This is what we focus on through our ENGAGE phase. We also know the importance of building local support through networks, mentoring and linkages to locally available services, which led to the creation of our EMPOWER phase.
Q: Operations is a question- language, transport, training etc. I'd like to understand how this isn't adding one more thing to an already full plate- think about what can be taken off a woman's plate to make time for this.
--> Solar Training: The solar training program is a very hands-on program where observation and practice is the key to learning. Each solar trainee builds 35 solar home systems during the six month period and troubleshoots them. Tools such as color coding and simple digital apps are utilized along with a step by step pictorial book to aid learning.
--> Language: Our solar trainers are also non-formally educated people of rural background, who in most cases are not fully literate and speak a few words of English. Barefoot College trainers have therefore naturally developed methods to overcome the literacy and language barriers: a demonstration is worth a thousand words, learning by doing, memorizing by repeating and practicing are the mantras followed during the training. For our Enriche program, we design digital materials targeted at illiterate users and aim to translate them in the local dialects. Our beekeeping curriculum is for example being developed in Swahili for our Tanzanian Mamas beekeepers.
--> Transport: Barefoot College with assistance from the ground partner, organizes the round trip transport of the solar trainees from their villages to Tilonia. Solar House Equipment: Once the women are back in their villages as solar engineers, Barefoot College with support from the ground partner ships the solar household equipment to the solar engineer villages.
--> Time: Enriche is build around Women’s priority and saving time is definitely one of them: as you rightly mention rural women have a lot on their plates! This is why one of our focus is teaching some practical solutions to save them time (improved cookstove and rain water harvesting reduce daily collection time). We also choose livelihoods that can be part time activities such as beekeeping (once a week visit) or sewing (mostly an evening activity once they have light in their homes!). The most labor intensive time for the solar engineer is typically for a month or so upon arrival of the solar household equipment. Once installation throughout the village has been completed, the repair and maintenance requires considerably smaller time investment. Our ENGAGE workshops are scheduled by women facilitators and participants themselves. Women select the months in the year that are most appropriate (for e.g. low seasons for crops) and the time and number of hours per day that are the most appropriate for their schedule.
We loved the resources you shared and we will surely encourage our team members to craft some compelling stories about Barefoot College and Enriche impact!
Thanks again for this opportunity to use Human Centered Design to improve our program, and crossing fingers for the last phase!
So many thanks for your kind, insightful and enthusiastic feedback! We are also very excited about this opportunity to improve, refine and scale our program with your support and we strongly believe there is a lot we could learn from each other!
We have integrated some of your doubts and clarification needs in our proposal, but here are some direct answers to the relevant questions you raised:
Q: How is the training conducted for non-literate women, women who speak dialects, and how will home support be provided?
--> The solar program trainees are divided into three groups for the Enriche workshop- English speaking, Hindi speaking and other languages. The other languages primarily tend to be Spanish, French, Bhutanese, and Swahili. Most often one person each language group understands a fair amount of English and we are able to utilize her expertise to convey the information to her other group members. We also at times have staff or volunteers for Spanish and French translation, along with the services of Google Translate. An integral part of the program relates to demystification of knowledge such that it is readily translated into practical skills, such as making Oral Rehydration Solutions, reusable sanitary napkins, efficient stoves, composting, etc. Furthermore role plays, images and videos are utilized to address other topics such as gender equality, savings, banking, etc. The resource material being created is extremely image heavy to ensure that the ability to read and write, therefore language is not critical to understanding the concept being presented. We will follow a similar path for the digitization of our curriculum which will also have voiceovers in multiple languages.
Q: Is there childcare on site?
--> Barefoot College prefers to invest in women between the ages of 36 to 65 as these women are fully vested in their communities. A large majority of our solar trainees are grandmothers and have no young children. This gives them the time and space of mind they need to fully focus on this growth opportunity. In instances where women do bring along a child for the six month training, an on-site creche provides child care.
Q: Can you consider bringing in teams/cohorts of women from villages so there will be support back in the villages when they return- people who understand the paradigm shift.
--> From our +45 years experience working at the grassroots level we understood that paradigm shift can only happen at the community level with strong engagement and ownership in the change process. Practical considerations do not allow for additional cohorts of women to be on campus with the solar trainees during the six month residential course the trainees attend. However the solar trainees are strongly encouraged and provided with some tools to share the information learned with their community. The ENGAGE module of the Enriche program plans on engaging communities of solar trainees and other communities to engage larger groups via training women leaders, health workers and other women as ‘Peer to Peer Facilitators’. They will be provided with resources to conduct workshops relevant to their community members at the village level.
Q: Also think about home support for them and their families when they are gone? (cooking, cleaning, supporting household responsibilities?)
--> The solar trainees are selected with involvement of the whole community, village elders/representatives, families and the ground partner ngo. Therefore the village decides which women would be best suited to undertake the journey to bring light to the village. In return the villagers commit to provide support to the woman’s family and in ensuring that the required household activities is also taken care of.
--> We acknowledge the concern raised on the “returning home “ support. This is exactly the reason “ENGAGE” module has been designed. Feedback from the women and the ground partner have made us realize that implementation of the “ENHANCE” module in the community is crucial for a sustained and large scale impact. The ground partner who have been working with the communities for a long time plays a larger role in the community outreach. They take the role of supporting the trainees to gather women, provide place such as the REW (Rural Electronic Workshop) that is set up as a space for solar equipment repairs, spare parts, excess inventory, etc., for community gatherings and workshops, linking with local services and support systems.