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Miriam Levy Turner visits the East Africa Regional Vocational Training Centre of FOBC

26 February 2016

Miriam Levy Turner visits the East Africa Regional Vocational Training Centre of FOBC

In November 2015, Kathrin Legg, Director of FOBC and Meagan Carnahan Fallon, CEO of Barefoot College International invited Miriam Levy Turner, Director of Whitmill Trust Suisse SA, to visit the East Africa Regional Vocational Training Centre, a Barefoot College partnership with the Government of Zanzibar. The Centre is situated in Matemwe on the Island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Miriam took with her a gift of 10 iPads.

Friends of Barefoot College is a European satellite organisation for projects promoted and overseen by Barefoot College, which is based in Tilonia, India. Barefoot College International has the vision of sharing knowledge and putting into practice the specialist farming skills required to develop the rural community; a practical way to change social traditions and gender discrimination via the use of a participatory decision making. The aim of Barefoot College has been to devise self-sufficient and sustainable solutions to address the problems facing poor, rural communities.

Many of these solutions focus on the delivery of education and life-skills to empower women as entrepreneurs. They also address the challenges of delivering solutions for solar electrification and importantly, the supply of clean drinking water in order to free women and children from the burdens of subsistence, disease and infant mortality. It is hoped that women will become environmental stewards, working to bring benefits and responsible changes to local society.

Miriam’s trip to Zanzibar took her to see one of these projects and she was moved and inspired by those she met. 

"I met ‘Mamas’ (girls aged 17), who were all illiterate or semi-illiterate. Some of the girls have left their villages, families and children to pursue this training. Once they have graduated, each Mama will return to her village with the knowledge and capacity to build, install and maintain a number of different solar lighting systems.

As agents of change they will also be expected to set up village committees to manage their own solar and electricity generation programmes, open bank accounts, collect monthly contributions for the repair and maintenance of such installations and create community ownership and a spirit of confidence in the new technology.

At Barefoot College each Mama is trained to use digital tools designed specifically for those who have never had access to formal education. The Whitmill Trust Group is proud to have contributed ten iPads for the use of the Mamas of the Wanawake Kupanda Association in Zanzibar. We know they will make good use of this gift and hope that the education and skills they learn will lead to a better and brighter future for local women and children.”

To find out more about Whitmill and its CSR programmes please contact Miriam Levy-Turner

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