December 27, 2022

On Monday 12th December, Dr. Alejandro Giammattei, President of the Republic of Guatemala, presented the 2022 Presidential Environmental Medal to Barefoot College International at a ceremony held in the Mirror Hall of the Presidential Palace.  

We’ve supported Barefoot College International since 2019, donating 50% of the profits from our Fire & Hide range to Barefoot's Solar Mamas initiative, training rural women in Guatemala to become solar engineers. These women are then able to provide renewable power for their villages and help train the next generation.

The award is the highest recognition given by the Guatemalan state to organisations or individuals for environmental work and was first presented in 1992. The presentation of this award to BCI is a testament to the effort and dedication of the organisation, which was originally created in India and has been working in Guatemala for ten years with outstanding achievements in the conservation, promotion, improvement, and protection of the environment. 

Barefoot College International Guatemala Presidential Award

The award was presented by the President to Rodrigo Paris, CEO of Barefoot College International. Also present at the medal presentation ceremony were Ing. Gerson Elías Barrios Garrido, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources; Manoj Kumar, Mohapatra, Ambassador of India in Guatemala; and Manu Singh, A Barefoot College International teacher.

Two Solar Mama’s were in attendance at the ceremony, Juana Emelia de León Marcos, an indigenous Guatemalan woman who trained as a Solar Engineer in India in 2020. Since her training with BCI, Juana has become a Solar Master Trainer, and has trained a dozen women from Guatemala to bring solar energy to isolated communities in the most vulnerable and isolated areas of the country. 

She was joined by Mrs Rosenda Francisca García, who lost her husband early this year yet finished the first training solar program in Guatemala. She will provide light to more than 34 houses in her community, Cumbre de La Botija, by January. 

Barefoot College International

More About Barefoot College International

Barefoot College International is a non-profit organisation that works in over 90 countries around the world to directly address 14 of the 17 UN Sustainability Goals. They create solutions for people and planet through grassroots programmes that work in partnership with rural communities to fight climate change, create sustainable economic uplift and address the global skills gap. 

Through their Solar, Education, Agri Livelihoods, Enriche, Water and Health programmes, they make vocational educational opportunities accessible to women and girls from marginalised rural communities. Through these programmes women, colloquially known as ‘Solar Mamas’, become agents of economic, social and environmental change, stewarding their communities to a more sustainable future; protecting rural ways of life; putting themselves into leadership positions; and passing on knowledge and skills for generations to come. 

To date, the flagship Solar programme has trained more than 2,200 illiterate or semi-literate women as Solar Engineers, training them to build, install and maintain solar home lighting systems. These women have gone on to impact the lives of more than 2 million people through environmentally friendly energy, subsequently improving education, health and livelihood outcomes in their home communities. 

Barefoot College International is known for its ability to bring about systems and policy change through innovative partnerships with National Governments, Private sector and Philanthropic investment. They have now established a series of international training centres in 4 Indian states, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Tanzania/Zanzibar, Madagascar, Guatemala and are due to open a centre in Fiji. 

In 2021 they were recognised by the World Economic Forum as one of India’s top 50 last-mile solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in 2020 they were, for the 7th consecutive year, recognised within Top 20 of the Global Journal’s 500 NGO ranking list.

Find out more about Barefoot College International and their innovative programmes on their website.

50% of the profit from our Fire & Hide range is donated to Barefoot College International.

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