A Love Poem to Tilonia

Upon our arrival in Tilonia, we were immediately swept up in a protest by locals demanding their share of grains under India's Public Distribution System. Later on, we went to a balwadi (preschool) sponsored by SWRC, the NGO behind Barefoot College. Many of us had to get used to being transported everywhere via pickup truck (I was lucky enough to sneak a seat in the van). Undoubtedly one of the most awesome things I have seen in India, maybe ever, this solar workshop taught women from all over the world how to build solar-powered devices. Another workshop used recycled material from the entire campus to build toys, games and trinkets for the craft shop. These women had been taught by an engineer how to construct huge self-regulating solar cookers and sustainable water heaters. Four of us decided to wake up early and conquer the nearby "mountain" (rocky hill) to see the sun rise on our last morning. I didn't really have appropriate footwear for climbing... but it was so incredibly worth it. The very last meeting we went to was also attended by Aruna Roy, who helped found SWRC and Barefoot College.

Our last and most extensive field trip for socio-economics was to the village of Tilonia in rural Rajasthan. Staying at Barefoot College, the revolutionary NGO founded by Bunker Roy, we visited the organization’s night school, various workshops, both private and public schools, and even watched a puppet show. We spoke to people who told us the story of how SWRC (the Social Work Research Centre behind Barefoot College) changed their lives, and then saw it happen before our eyes as we sat in on the village’s monthly meeting with the local government. I can’t believe how lucky we’ve been on all these field trips, in being able to escape the city life and experience things we would never be able to do on our own.