Aarti Devi is not your average radio host. A Tilonia resident and mother of two, she records, edits, and broadcasts a radio station built and maintained by the rural poor.
Barefoot’s community radio stationis part of a strategy that combines rural knowledge and modern innovation to help villagers build a better, more sustainable, self reliant life. From local news to farming tips and civil rights, the radio provides important information to residents from more than 30 villages within a 15 mile radius, reaching an audience of 50,000 people. In addition to informative programming, Aarti preserves valuable local traditions and culture by sharing music from indigenous folk concerts and interviewing artisans about their crafts.
“The archaic mindset, the older way of thinking that says ‘stay at home, do things only this way… Do not let the girls go out, keep them inside…’ This thinking needs to change,” Aarti says.
Aarti is a role model for other women and girls from her village who aspire to contribute to their community outside of their homes. Barefoot’s community radio station also sets an example of environmental stewardship: the walls of the radio room have been covered with recycled egg cartons for sound proofing and cooling.
By providing access to technology and combining a commitment to sustainable development with a deep respect for villagers’ knowledge, Barefoot helps rural women let their voices be heard.