Pensive, but determined.
Not so long ago we were meeting to discuss the needs and possibilities for the rural communities of Burma. Together we were exploring projects to build a village school, to support a medical facility, to expand a crucial water pipeline…and to bring electricity to a village in Mon State.
It’s kind of unreal to think about all these things when you can barely figure out the day-to-day responsibilities for feeding your family.
This particular day was especially wonderful. It went beyond merely sharing dreams – to actually making them happen. The culmination of a year’s worth of planning and final preparations to train Myanmar’s first grandmother solar engineers at Barefoot College.
In the ‘before’ picture my arms are wrapped around one of the five village leaders who had been crucial in collaborating for the future of her community. This woman is strong and dedicated to her family. Somewhat shy and insecure about her abilities to participate in the program, she was nevertheless filled with wonder and amazement at how she would be able to help her community. To be able to send her grandchildren to school, for them to be able to study with the lights on, for no-one in the village to have to travel miles to get clean drinking water – all these things were in her reach, as she was going to embark on the training program.
Last month the group returned from their 6-month trip to India. From the overwhelmed shock of emotions to the incredible confidence and joy – these pictures are testimony to a journey of empowerment.
According to the Myanmar Times, deputy minister of rural development, U Aung Myint Oo, described the women as “an inspiration”:
“It is unthinkable that these six semi-literate Myanmar women from remote villages travelled abroad to study solar assembly. Their desire to light up their remote villages is highly commendable. It is an inspiration to all people in Myanmar that women of their age can learn something really important for their communities.”
And so, as one life-changing journey ends for the individuals, another rousing journey starts for the sustainable development of their rural communities.
As a side note, Barefoot College founder, Bunker Roy, has since received the Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership in Civil Society at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City. A perfect recognition for all the amazing work that he has initiated around the world!