In the early ’70s, the lack of employment in the villages of Rajasthan forced many of the rural poor to migrate to cities. When the youth fled, they took with them the dying hopes of their parents- who were weavers, blacksmiths, potters, builders, carpenters, farmers-to pass on the traditional skills to the next generation. They left behind not only their families but also the knowledge their elders had collected over the generations to adapt to local conditions.
The Barefoot College began promoting rural craft to address these problems of under-employment. Assistance in improving designs and techniques, creation of marketing outlets, and access to credit have helped to restore and create new income opportunities for craftsmen and women. Training and materials provided by the College also enabled women to work from home, helping them to generate income from craft.
These rural artisans produce clothing and accessories, decorative home furnishings, furniture, rugs, textiles, handmade paper products, puppets, educational toys, metalwork, and leather goods. The crafts are sold through retail shops and exhibitions held in metropolitan cities of India, Europe, USA and Canada.
Friends of Tilonia (FOT) is working with the College to develop direct sales and marketing channels for these crafts in the U.S.A. To support this effort, FOT has developed an online store- www.tilonia.com that is promoting sales and direct marketing to individuals, wholesalers and distributors on behalf of Barefoot College.