Recognized by UNESCO as one of the top 100 education projects in developing countries, Barli Development Institute for Rural Women (Barli) educates and empowers young, rural and tribal women and girls to become leaders and agents of social change in their communities. Though most girls are illiterate when they arrive, 100% pass the national literacy exam within six months and can read and write in Hindi (not their native language).
Graduating class of 2019 pictured above, taken prior to the coronavirus pandemic
Barli’s courses run for six months each. In the midst of the first course, on March 24, 2020, India’s Prime Minister ordered a nationwide lockdown. Some of the students had already returned home and Barli was able to safely continue their training of 51 students. The facilities of Barli are isolated so when the coronavirus pandemic initially broke out in India, the students and faculty were safe from the threat. All students and faculty are still healthy, have sufficient food/vegetables and are in the process of procuring more. The teachers and Director were in constant communication with the parents of the resident students.
Additional activities were added to Barli’s 6-month course in response to the pandemic.
COVID-19 and training:
1. Information sharing: The trainees were given information about COVID-19 and its impacts, especially the precautions and the symptoms. Social distancing, use of masks and hand washing was practiced. Study material and manual was also prepared on this issue. They were also given details as to whom to contact in their villages in case of emergencies.
2. Teaching the trainees to make masks and gloves: The trainees were taught how to make gloves and masks
3. Women-trainees were taught how to make soaps and effective sanitizers at home, and the importance of monitoring body temperature for early detection and prevention of COVID-19.
4. The trainees learnt to make (tested) Ayurvedic herbal teas (made from locally available medicinal plants and herbs (including: Holy basil, Ginger, Turmeric, Giloy (Tinospora cordifolia), black pepper corns, Moringa leaves) for boosting immunity towards COVID-19 and other seasonal flu and fevers.