Plenty of Action at the Sikkim Training Centre
Our recent report from SWRC Saddam, Sikkim training campus shared a slew of recent news with the Barefoot College family. Classes began in early 2020, and all of the beneficiaries completed their courses despite the added pressure of lockdown and COVID-19. The campus also saw many fruitful events, and with new projects on the horizon, our staff is excited to share their latest stories.
Rainwater Harvesting Tanks
Over the past few decades, we’ve established several rainwater harvesting tanks across Sikkim to provide rural communities with dependable, sanitary drinking water. Members of our Barefoot SWRC Team have begun the assessment of a list of 20 tanks for this year. Our visitations serve to assess the conditions of the tanks over time and to decide where maintenance or further efforts are required. Mr. Shiva, Mr. Aman and Mr. Ganga Prasad checked up on school handpumps, planning with the teachers when repairs could be done. Village committees are organized in order to have the tanks remain properly managed.
The teachers remarked that they were pleased to have “wonderful facilities”. One tank that was inspected, built back in 1996, was still fully functioning in good condition. The lifespan of the tanks is therefore impressively long, especially when they’re well cared for by the communities they’ve been installed in. Our team members also met with the regional water management committee, getting approval for the installation of new tanks in Gupti village.
When our SWRC staff surveyed densely populated villages in Saddam, Sikkim, they discovered that there was a high demand for solar-powered products. Solar torches and home lighting systems were requested, and a dramatic request specifically for lanterns. Back in January, 48 cases of solar products were successfully shipped and received at the centre. Trainees helped to collect the shipments while our Solar Master Trainers kept stock of all received products. The products are clearly gaining popularity locally, where clean and reliable energy sources are by far the best options for rural communities.
Our SWRC Sikkim staff and Solar Sakhis gathered to celebrate Republic Day 2020 on the premises. A flag was hoisted by Master Trainer Mr. Gampat Sharmaa, while the National anthem was collectively sung. There was a Quiz Competition with questions about the significance of the day for the trainees to participate in.
Visit from CEO of Meghalaya State
The Chief Executive Officer of Meghalaya State Livelihood Society (Ronald L Kynta, Head Financial Inclusion) paid SWRC Sikkim a special visit on March 4th and 5th. During his visit, he was introduced to the Solar Sakhi training program. He visited the Solar Demo Room and had products showcased by Master Trainer Bimla Pradhan. Barefoot’s digital training specialist Monika explained how digital literacy is provided to the trainees, and how beneficial an introductory understanding of this technology is for rural entrepreneurs and businesswomen.
The well-received visit also included a solar installation demo and how solar equipment is to be maintained by the beneficiaries. This exemplifies the efficacy of the program and the largely under-utilized potential of the rural and semi-illiterate women who are the sole focus of the training. The trainees always impress visitors with their technical knowledge and skills, inspiring more support and attention from figureheads.
Once the situation in Sikkim and other regions improves, guests are more than welcome to visit the training centre and receive a tutorial of the classes that the women are engaged in. Our programs never cease to leave a lasting impact on guests.