Visiting the Barli Development Institute For Rural Women, Indore
"Being remembered for books and theories is not enough. One does not make a difference unless it is a difference in the lives of people.” – Economist Joseph Schumpeter
Monday 9 November 2009
I and a friend drive down to Indore to the Barli Development Institute For Rural Women to attend the 97th course completion ceremony (Deekshant Samaroh). I had received an email from Janak Palta Mc Gilligan, the director and life force of this institute, inviting me to attend the function. I love visiting this institute in Bhamori, Indore. This must have been the third or fourth time I was attending such a function. Janak Palta , who is from Chandigarh, and her husband Jimmy McGilligan (James McGilligan to be precise) who is from Northern Ireland, UK had set up this institute way back in the mid eighties.
Pic above: A smiling Janak at her desk. August 2009.
Pic above: Jimmy with his solar cooker. Aug 2009.
According to their website, www.barli.org , a visit to which I would strongly recommend:
'Barli’ is a common female name among Bhilala Tribes in the districts where many trainees come from. Barli denotes the central pillar which supports the tribal house typical of these areas, highlighting the belief of the Institute that women are the central pillars of society.
Based in Indore, the Institute conducts residential training programmes for rural, village and tribal women who did not get the opportunity of schooling and those who dropped out school. Most of the trainees come from western Madhya Pradesh, many also come from other states and areas of India. Priority is given to the socially and economically disadvantaged, i.e, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward classes, the physically challenged, orphans, widows, divorcees, the abused and the neglected. In Chattisgarh region there are three extension centers in Kanker and Imlipara where the girls trained from Barli are running these centers.
Pic above: Tribal motifs on the parapet wall of a well at the Barli Institute.
Pic above: Solar cookers at the Barli Institute. August 2009.
Janak was honored by All India Water Works Association, 1993 for educating rural and tribal women in safe drinking water and eradication of Guinea worms in 302 villages of Jhabua district.
She has also received the Global 500 Roll of Honor on behalf of BVIRW conferred by UN to the BVIRW at the Earth Summit Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on 5 June 1992 for its outstanding Achievements in the field of environmental efforts. BVIRW, if I remember rightly, stood for Bahai Vocational Institute For Rural Women – the name by which the Barli Development Institute For Rural Women was known by.
Janak and Jimmy are members of the Bahai community in India. Jimmy is an expert in solar cookers and has received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in the honours list announced by Buckingham Palace in 2009.
The Barli Institute in Indore is an unbelievable place. It is a beehive of activity. It exudes very positive vibes relating to work and creativity. It also receives students from Europe and America, among other countries, who come here and live and work and enrich themselves.
Pic above: A beaming Janak with a bank official and members of a village self help group (SHG) in a village in Mhow tehsil of Indore district. The SHG was provided with a solar cooker by the Barli Institute. Pic courtesy: Barli Institute.
Pic above: A tribal family with a solar cooker they have received from the Barli institute. Pic courtesy: Barli Institute.
This blogpost is a salute and tribute to this lovely couple who have given so much to underpreviliged women in particular and to society in general. I am glad that I met them accidentally on a trek. This was in 1995. Almost fifteen years ago. And we clicked well from the first moment. They are a very friendly couple and they have this remarkable ability to draw the best out of everyone they meet. I wonder whether I qualify in any manner to write about them but I am glad that fellow bloggers and readers of this blogpost will come to know about them, their work and their beautiful institute through my words.
Pic above: Trainees finishing a sewing session. August 2009.
Pic above: Trainees who have completed their training singing a group song at the passing out function on 9th November.
Fuel pellets made from biomass and paper. On rainy days these come in handy to cook food at the institute when their solar cookers cannot be used. This time on November 9 we had a lunch cooked by burning such pellets as the overcast skies prevented the use of solar cookers. On earlier occasions the lunch I have had on such days was cooked on the solar cookers.
Rotis made using the solar cooker and being kept hot. August 2009.
An article on Jimmy titled 'Here Comes The Sun' which had been published in the Hindustan Times.
Click here to see the original version of this post which had been posted in my sulekha weblog.