Since its inception, the long term objective of the Barefoot College has been to work with marginalized, exploited and impoverished rural poor, living on less than $1 a day, and lift them over the poverty line with dignity and self respect. The dream was to establish a rural college in India that was built by and exclusively for the poor. Established in 1972, the Barefoot College is an NGO that has been providing basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities to help them become self-sufficient and sustainable. These ‘Barefoot solutions’ can be broadly categorized into three main areas: alternative energy, water, and education, and include solar energy, health care, rural handicrafts, people’s action, communication, women’s empowerment and wasteland development. The College believes that for any rural development activity to be successful and sustainable, it must be based in the village as well as managed and owned by the people it serves. All Barefoot initiatives whether social, political or economic, are planned and implemented by a network of rural men and women who are known as ‘Barefoot Professionals’.
When Barefoot College founder Bunker Roy shared stories of empowered grandmothers bringing the transformative power of light to their rural communities, he created a buzz of interest among documentarians on the lookout for a good story. Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief picked up cameras and headed to Africa to follow Roy as he recruits grandmothers for the program. The central story in their film focuses on the challenges faced by a Jordan woman while she is in India to attend the program. With founding support from the Sundance/Skoll Stories of Change partnership, the film will be part of the global documentary project Why Poverty?