Talent shines at ‘solar mama’ charity fundraiser

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Sydenham High hosted a Talent Show on Tuesday 8 November in aid of the school’s newly selected charity, the Barefoot College, which trains illiterate women in remote villages to be solar engineers.

The evening was organised by the Sixth Form Young Leadership Team, comprised of the two Head Girls, the Heads of House and three Sixth Form Prefects – charity, senior and mentoring.

The event theme was The Great Gatsby, resulting in a selection of jazz, musical theatre and virtuoso performances from students across the senior school, plus some wonderful costumes!  However, the greatest surprise of the evening was a performance from the staff band, singing Adele’s famous Rolling in the Deep.  Click here to view the video.

The evening concluded with an auction of promises, which included a variety of offers from dog walking to a Christmas cake decorating workshop. Across the evening guests were informed about the charity for which we were fundraising, which motivated some very generous bidding in the auction.

The Barefoot College aims to empower and train women in some of the poorest areas of the world and was set up by 71 year old Bunker Roy, named one of the 50 environmentalists who could save the planet by the Guardian and one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine. Originally, the charity only worked with Indian villages, but today they operate in over 77 countries.

Outreach workers select women from each village to return with them to the Barefoot College. Trainees are often illiterate or semi-literate grandmothers who maintain strong roots in their villages and play a major role in community development.

Once at the college, the students receive a 6-month training programme, and at the end are qualified as a ‘Barefoot solar engineer’. They receive training in the building, installation and repair of solar panels, and the use of renewable water pumps. None of the training requires the ability to read or write.

The main 8-acre campus in Rajasthan was built entirely by students, so that they would feel comfortable there.  They also have satellite campuses across Africa and Latin America.

Once the course is complete, the ‘solar mamas’ return to their villages, bringing with them light that illuminates homes; powers night schools and clean drinking water systems, along with new knowledge which they can share with others.

We were delighted to be able to raise over £1,000 for this incredible charity over the course of the evening, and look forward to a year of fundraising for them.

Report by Greta Holmes, Head Girl

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