Think sustainably. Act responsAble.


Lighting Up Indigenous Communities in Kerala

The Power of the Sun

The Power of the Sun

In the hills of Wayanad, lost in the midst of a huge nation park that envelops with it’s lush vegetation three states of South India, Kerala Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, lives a remote and pristine tribe. The Kuruma people have lived in harmony with their environment, peacefully collecting the fruits of this generous nature but never exploiting it, learning how to cope with the fear of wild animals that populate the park, and never intruding into the circle of life that goes on unspoiled in this amazing region. As many of the ‘noble savages’ today they have been threatened by the rules of the State, by that forced and abrupt ‘environmentalism’ that wants nature untouched and segregated into ‘Parks’ that can only become tourist attractions, that environmentalism that so often denies the importance of local communities into the conservation of their own and well known environment.

The Kuruma are one of those people, and thanks to the work of Rasta and the Barefoot College I had the honor to meet them. Being ‘illegal settlers’ they do not benefit from any government support, no health centre, no school, no infrastructure and no electricity. This is why a joint project of Rasta Wayanad and the Barefoot College india has reached out to them to provide them access to clean, sustainable, non profit Solar Energy.

Rasta Wayanad Staff and Solar Engineers

Rasta Wayanad Staff and Solar Engineers

Two local girls, Nitila and Babina, have been in fact trained as Solar Engineers at the Barefoot College for six months in 2014. They had the courage to leave their homes to travel to a foreign state to attend one of the first college for illiterate people in the world, that provides training in livelihood solutions to the poor since 1972. The Barefoot College philosophy is based in fact on the demystification of technologies that are otherwise owned by ‘professionals’, standing on the proved assumption that marginalized, illiterate people are the best actors of they own development.

Since the training they have returned to the area and successfully solar electrified 160 Households in two villages of Wayanad, Meppadi, providing light to the migrant workers in the hills adorned of tea and cardamom plantations, and Noolphuza, inside the Wayanad National Park where the Kuruma people live on their ancestral lands, although still deemed illegals at the eyes of the State.

The hills of Wayanad

The hills of Wayanad

They travel to each village once a month or anytime they are needed, making sure that the systems are maintained and well taken care of, and collecting the monthly contributions of one dollar per household, the one dollar that saves 6 to 10 litres of kerosene are used by each family each month, one dollar that makes the air in the house healthier, that allows children to study after dark and mothers to carry out other income generating activities after the sun sets. One dollar that prevents other children from being burned by the kerosene lamps, and the bamboo houses to burn down because of the fire caused by the fall of a lit lamp.


The Smile of Kuruma

Rasta Wayanad has a long history of community outreach to marginalized tribal groups in Kerala, one of the most ‘developed’ state in India, that has the highest literacy rates, but still has dark spots into it’s soul, the guilt of discriminating it’s most pristine communities.. With this joint project the NGOs have lighten up the homes of their beneficiaries, making them safer from the attacks of tigers and elephants at night, as well as allowing them to access an asset that in rural India shapes the social dimension of poverty, Light.

The Kuruma are marginalized because are resisting the relocation policies of the State and all the consequences that that would bring on their lives, uprooting all their traditions and livelihoods. They are ‘occupying’ the land that has been theirs for hundreds of years, the land they have farmed and cherished, where their ancestors are buried, where their traditions are rooted, and the medicinal plants they use so wisely are collected.

They have refused monetary compensations to live their lands, and when you ask the question ‘Why?’ they simply respond, ‘because we don’t eat money, do you?’

Young Kuruma Boys outside their hut now enlightened also at nigh by the Sun

Young Kuruma Boys outside their hut now enlightened also at nigh by the Sun


An Ache’ Indigenous leader in the Rajasthan Desert


An Ache leader in Tilonia

An Ache leader in Tilonia



As a young anthropologist, a bit disillusioned the the myth of modernity and the uniforming veil that globalization has laid on the people of the earth, their cultures and their identities, Margarita, or Mbywangi, her Ache name, is one of those person that I never thought I would have the chance of meeting in the spam of a lifetime.

The barefoot College, in the desert of Rajasthan, has made this possible. It brings together women from the most remote corners of the world to learn how to master the energy of the sun.

In Tilonia everyday technology is democratized and it is made available to the same people that the expansion of capital and global markets has marginalized. At the same time their traditional wisdom – the one that is rooted in local communities – is strengthened and valorized, to enhance self sustainability for the future generations.

Mbywangi’s eyes have the deep green shade of the forest, and she irradiates the soothing energy of nature. Her voice is light and ensuring, as much as powerful, when it speaks on behalf of the Paraguayan forest and embodies the peaceful courage of the people that inhabit it.

The Ache people of North Eastern Paraguay, are a traditional nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe living in Eastern Paraguay. They are called “Guayakí” by Guaraní speaking neighbors and in early anthropological accounts. Like many other indigenous people the Ache lived un-contacted till the end of the 1600s when they started appearing in the accounts of the first wondering Jesuits.

Also like many other indigenous groups of South and Central America, the Ache lived in peaceful harmony with their forest until the 1950’s age in which the nonsense of the industrial area spread its insatiable hunger of land and resources throughout the world. It is then that ‘campesinos’ and developers invaded the forest eager for land to farm, wood to cut, timber to exploit and livelihoods to restructure. Displacement and violence took the place of harmony, and by the 1980’s only 35 families had survived the contact of ‘civilization’. Margarita is one of the last living witness of this history..

Born in 1962 in the forest, at the age of 5 Mbywangi was kidnapped together with her brother, whom is still in the list of Desaparecidos.

Mbwyangi’s family was murdered and her people were displaced and enclosed into a 50km square Km area, the ‘reserva Natural de Mbaracayú’, a parody of the wide and boundless Ache ancestral land.

It is by then that, dressing civil clothes and attending a government school in the city of Corugate, Mbywangi became Margarita Samudio, an Indian girl living with an alien family.

Margarita knew since childhood, that she was different from her brothers and sisters, she felt that her nature did not relate to the city life she had been forced into. Instead something in her dreams called her to the forest, in particular there was the memory of a taste that she could not find anywhere. It was the taste of a special kind of food, one that watered her childhood, a palm larva that is typical in the Ache diet.

Memory works in very peculiar ways… She didn’t know that she’d only find that taste again, 15 years later, when thanks to the support of Father Hernandárias she will manage to trace her roots and to go back to her people.

An Ache Solar Engineer

Thanks to her incredible strength and courage, Mbywangi has managed to retrace her origins and went back to the Ache people, she became a nurse and a leader, a spokesperson and a symbol of the Ache community struggle. In 2014 a plane has flown her and other two con-nationals to Tilonia, a little village in India where at the Barefoot College she is being trained as a solar engineer, equipped with the skills that will bring the democracy of the sun to enlighten the nights of her people.

Mbywangi’s story as the one of many Indigenous People around the world is one of pain and displacement, of those negated identities that ill-conceived games that States and corporations play over people’s rights, often in the name of development and exploitation.

But her story is also one of pride, of rediscovered roots and memories that man’s cruelty has tried to eradicate unsuccessfully.

The aberrant practices committed against the Aché community have been amply documented. In addition, the Truth and Justice Commission made ​​a detailed investigation of the facts, the testimony of the natives. And many human rights organizations like Resiste Paraguay and Survival International have been monitoring the injustices that the Ache people has had to endure in those years and are supporting the community in the reclamation of their memory, their rights and their lands.


Mbywangi’s story screams out the fight for justice and embodies the struggle of thousands of indigenous groups around the world.

In the 1970’s the Ache people were reduced to 30 families. Today the account for a million people. And their voices is no longer silenced. In September 2014 she will go back to the Maracaju with the skills that she will have gathered at the Barefoot College, with the power of light.

May her other great adventure and her courage bring new hope to the struggle of her community, and may the memory of her life be an example of what humanity should never forget, nor allow to happen again.


 Unity is Power


The Spirit Of the Desert

The Spirit Of the Desert

Barefoot Photographs by Stella Morielli and Shweta Rao
Aurora festival, 4-6 July 2014, Pienza, Italy

People from the desert of Rajasthan, India have lived for centuries in this beautifully tough surroundings. No matter how harsh Mother Nature might have been to them, their traditional wisdom has allowed them to live in perfect harmony with their environment, and to cherish it. All these photographs have been taken in different areas of the Thar Desert and are a homage to its people . Their colourfulness and their genuine smiles celebrate life in all its forms, a brave but respectful opposition to the dryness around them. This exhibition is a small effort to bring out the unheard voices of the desert to most of us who live in the comforts of the cities. Because we do hold responsibility, as human beings, to defend their ways of living and to understand their culture and their history. We hope to offer through this gaze on the desert, both a lesson and a celebration of life. Mostly it is a tribute to so many people around the world, who survive on a drop of water everyday and nurture the respect for what we have, so long, taken for granted.
Barefoot Photographs by Stella Morielli and Shweta Rao

Join us at  Aurora festival, 4-6 July 2014, Pienza, Italy


Nowhere or Now Here ?

Nowhere or Now Here ?

People can think whatever they want but the struggle is your own, nah?
So only you know what you go through to get where you get to..
And only you can know – at the end of the journey – if it was all worth it..
Till now it definitely was.
Thank you Mama India


The Guardians of the Forest… …What we have done in the course of Western history if conquest, to indigenous communities, to our ancestor’s, the only rightful inhabitants of the earth, is unforgivable.
At Barefoot College we are honoured to have Margarita Mbywangi, one of the last living witness of the deliberate genocide of the Ache people of eastern Paraguay. She will bring solar light to her community, so long neglected indigenous group that has seen its land and its people kidnapped and cruelly killed, and their culture on the risk of extinction. Although no forgiveness can be granted for the actors of this cruelty, there is still hope that humanity will learn from its past mistakes, and restore the so long forgotten rights of these amazing people, and many others around the world. .

The Light of the Future


What would you do if you were a 10 year old girl, that spends all here days grazing cattle and with no time and no access to education.

What would you do if the village you were born was so remote that nobody had ever thought that people over there might need an education.

What would you do if the education option you are provided with, are not at all resonating with your needs in the rural areas?

The ‘Rural Night School Program’ was started by Barefoot College in India 1975 on an experimental basis and has been since then successfully developing all over Rajsthan (140 schools) and other remote areas of India ( Uttarkhand, Bihar, Jarkhand) as many as 450 rural night schools.

The axiom is that socio economic development cannot be effective if not upheld to from the local community and without the down to top approach that implies that local people are involved in the structuring of ad hoc programs made to respond to their own needs;

Education is the same. If imposed from the top down only people clinging to the dream of rural emancipation and urban migration would make use of it’s opportunities. government schools are mostly attended by only one male member of rural families, who will hopefully move to a city to an underpaid government job and hopefully “emancipate” the family from their rural endowment and supposedly underachievement. That entails the education of a class of people who will eventually leave the village to migrate to the overpopulated cities for a middle class neighborhood if lucky or to pen of the overpopulated city slums omitted into the crowds of impersonal consumerism and individualism that the urban environment moulds human beings into.

I don t know when did the idea that living and working and resonating with nature has become negative and the symbol o backwardness!!

Agriculture and farmers are feeding the world, they are extracting the means of livelihood from nature daily, and the comfort of urban life would have not been possible without their precious work.

So my question is: when is this urban-centric philosophy has embodied the power structure of human greed? rural areas have become the slaves of the urban, and WHY??????

Rural education is something entirely different. It underlies a fundamental love and respect for the rural communities, their means of livelihood their ways of living the community and the fundamental importance of maintaining that bond with nature that has been lost in the power games of urban revolution;

A kid who is growing up through the informal education of local community has much more wisdom and is more likely to dwell well in his environment than a kid who has always lived within a city box.

Local teaching for local livelihood, to cherish the antique traditions that fed humanity throughout history.

The answer to the future shortage of food, water, education in the future lies within the wisdom of local communities.

 “May we have the foresight to know where we’re going, the hindsight to know where we’ve been, and the insight to know when we’ve gone too far.” (Irish saying)


Saline, Karnataka, India

Saline, Karnataka, India

“For those who know the value of and exquisite taste of solitary freedom (for one is only free when alone), the act of leaving is the bravest and most beautiful of all.”
― Isabelle Eberhardt,

The Suicide Economy and the Sacrifice of Our Future

Lee Kyung Hae at the TWO conference 2013, before he took his life for the cause.

Lee Kyung Hae at the TWO conference 2013, before he took his life for the cause.

The Sacrifice of Lee Kyung Hae, the Korean farmer who took is life in from of the WTO conference in Cancun 2013, stands over an already painful list of tragedies and shamelessly denied responsibilities.

Thousands of farmers like him have made the extreme sacrifice in those years, and the silence of the public media screams the pain of each singular life story, as all over the world modernity unveils it’s contradictions over the lives of innocent people, their lifestyles and their ancient knowledges.

In India, the current crisis of traditional farming is a strikingly painful chapter of a ‘sanctified modernity’. All it’s contradictions are epitomized as the biggest centres progress on the shining path of a western modeled capitalism and the rest of the country remains just apparently into a pristine lifestyle, an ancient era, one where life is governed by nature and humans not only adjusts to its rhythm but they cherish it.

As the country embarks towards an annual growth of population of the 1,3 % percent, large corporations and blinded institutions, professedly undermine Mother India’s capacity to feed her children.

In the last 10 years, in the larger agricultural nation in the world, farmers from Punjab, Bihar, Maharashtra have denounced with the extreme sacrifice of taking their own lives, the unbearable pain of being deprived their means if livelihood, their ancient wisdom, and their pride. Entire families ripped apart because blinded government policies that seek to feed the corporate greed instead of their own people.

As the seeds they grow become barren, as the needs for fertilizers and water of the same seeds captures them in the vicious circle of debt, and history repeats itself and brings about the feudal era, the earth’s biodiversity is sacrificed day by day.

Monsanto and other corporations, pursue through patenting and the rule of profit a daily genocide, the deliberate attack over thousands of vegetable, animal and bacterial species day by day, in order to guarantee the supremacy of only one species, and the most dangerous, for its rationality has made her the imposed master over nature: US.

The abandonment of the world small scale farmers unveils the insane pride of the modern man. The man that arrogates itself the divine duty of creation and reproduction that has always been Nature’s duty and privilege. She has been providing for us for millenniums, juggling all creatures and species into the delicate equilibrium of the circle of life.

In the prophetic ‘World without us’ (2007), Alan Weisman has hypothesized that nature would be able to regain her dominion on earth in few years after humankind disappearance..

On reverse: How are we going to supply for ourselves as the world population verges towards the edge of wretchedness, once we have deprived Nature of her creative power?

The world Without us..

The world Without us..

History repeats itself, yes, but true also that nothing happens in the spam of a single generation.. there’s a long chain of economy, power and politics that has lead to today’s mass suicides.

The way development works at the level of discourse and the power relations it establishes between local and global flows of knowledge, power and harm is what I aim at uncovering. I will assess the way development works by reshaping local relations of production, and often ends up in perpetuating or even worsen them both economically and environmentally.

I will concentrate on post independence India to assess the consequences and the economic tragedy of the Green Revolution that laid the standards for the way agricultural labour had to be conceived and carried out, and on the terrible aftermath of the 1984 environmental tragedy of Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) that still heavily affects the right to health and life of local people today.

These two cases embody the dark side of development, those unpredictable consequences of benign intentions, that often bear higher human and social costs than economic benefits. As such they are just two among many stories of “maldevelopment” (Shiva, 1993) that are sadly not at all exceptional, but often the price ought to be paid for progress, paradoxically natural consequences of the presence of capitalism itself.

Wheat Fields in South Kerala

Wheat Fields in South Kerala

The Suicidal Nature of Development.

Under the rule of rationality initiated by the Enlightenment, the project of modernity has for long laid the standards for how should a nation exist in the world, and how this model, that presupposed the existence of two widely distant systems, should be repeated from the ‘core to the periphery’. This notion is based on the belief that one part of humanity has had some sort of superiority on all others, conferred by a vantage of climate, history and race (see Wolf 1982, Blaut 1993, Jahoda 1999,). The development paradigm today embodies a great deal of this axiom (see Escobar 1997, Leach & Mearns 1996, Esteva 1992) and works by producing an homogenised model of repeatable progress, a disrupting series of technocratic “abnormalities” (Escobar, 1997: 90) to be cured. Ivan Illich defines development as the means by which “the rich of the world try to share their dubious blessings by foisting their pre-packaged solutions onto the Third World” (Illich, 1997:95)

Although the benevolent rhetoric of ‘doing no harm’ represents an inviting palliative of development policies, many instances show how harm is, instead, intrinsic to the very neo-liberal system that development seeks to promote (see Shiva 1993,2002, Escobar 1995, Leach & Mearns 1996, West 2006). The ‘do no harm’ approach to development (see Anderson 2000) evolved since the 1990’s, seeks to bridge the gap between the general vagueness of aid policies and the reality of its delivery under emergency situations of conflict and environmental disaster. In particular it deals with the variety of speculative opportunities that human tragedies engender in their aftermath. My aim in this paper will be unveiling how the blind modernism of industrial planning produces those states of emergency instead.

Within this epistemology the causes of hunger, diseases, and environmental destruction are related to the ‘scarcity’ of knowledge and technology and to ill-conceived economic systems, the solutions to which are relegated in the hands of few states and more importantly few supra-national bureaucracies of debt and aid, sustained by the ‘privilege of science’ (see Adams, 1995). In the market place of the IMF the lives of 925 millions of undernourished people  (FAO Report 2008) are sacrificed in the name of food speculation while the demographic growth seems unstoppable.

Green Revolution: The Chain of Debt and the Harvest of Scarcity. 

As Marshall Sahlins argued in 1972 “scarcity is the judgement decreed by our economy, so also the axiom of our Economics” (Sahlins, 1972:4). The fight against ‘scarcity’ embodies the essence and the intimate fears of consumer society and drives the wide range of economic moralities.

Seeds today embody a specific discursive formation on regards to technology, labour and nature. In the era of genetics, the seed has been deprived of its reproductive properties, and absorbed into the chain of production and patenting of international corporations. Improved seeds as such are a new powerful tool of domination of people and nature, while exemplifying a story of development-induced scarcity (Yapa 1996:70).

Since the “World bank’s obsession for population growth is long-standing, one of the main focus of development strategies from the 1960’s in Asia and Africa, concerned the imposition of birth control and yield enhancing techno-policies.

In the Third World where within the normalizing narrative of ‘development’, poverty had turned from problem to stigma, the response to the ‘problem of scarcity’ (Esteva, 1992, Katz 1995, Yapa 1996) was a Rockefeller-Ford funded project aiming at the radical restructuring of presumably ill-conceived production systems (see De Castro 1952), known as the Green Revolution, exported first to Mexico, then to India and other tropical areas.

Its ideological standpoint “offers technology as a substitute to both nature and politics” (Shiva, 1993:25); it seek to maximize profit through the use of genetically modified high yielding seeds, aimed at the production of ‘exchange-value’ (in the Marxist sense) usually for export, with high demand of water, chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

The Green Revolution involves a rationalization of nature through the creation of high consuming irrigation systems, and large mono-crop plantations, which homogenize productivity and amplify the economic risk of small-scale farmers and the loss of genetic diversity (Shiva 1993, Kothari & Harcourt 2004).

In post-Independence India (like all over the world), the impatience for becoming a modern nation met with the increasing food shortage and population increase, and the need to attract foreign funding justified the continuing presence of foreign administrators of mysterious sciences and technologies. Shiva shows how “American experts spread ecologically destructive and unsustainable agricultural practices worldwide” (1993:34) and how the social relations around agricultural labor, became intermingled in the chain of state intervention and international interests and consequently to the fluctuations of the market. By the end of 1960’s Punjabi farmers abandoned their traditional techniques to adopt the promising American mode, which initially brought about an impressive economic growth and improved India’s own agricultural self-sufficiency, but on the long term it’s chemical addictions have impoverished the soil and the  hydro-natural resources while enhancing desertification processes.

This continuous thirst in an already water-poor country has obliged farmers into a vicious circle of  contracting debts to sustain production and their new affluent life styles, while intensive farming methods destroy the soil. Larger land holdings started decimating small crops, regional and class disparities increased since wealthier farmers had more access to credit and land, while small farmer had to face the competitive prices of large plantations. At the same time, increasing mechanization rapidly reduces the labour demand and people start moving to the cities in search for opportunities. Thousands of farmers from Karnataka to Punjab have committed public suicide by drinking the pesticides, metaphorically symbolizing the suicide of the national policies that reward small scale farmers for the very practices that destroy their environment and trap them into debt. In an article from 2004 Shiva argues that the suicide crisis show that the “poor of the South cannot survive seeds monopoly” (Shiva 2004). This is a clear example of how an agricultural project based on western technological knowledge, based on poor assessment of local natural and socio-economic resources, can turn against the people whose livelihood is seeking to improve.

Short term solutions to long term structural problems are a common trend of neo-liberalism and often foster socially and environmentally disruptive mechanisms. In India the failure to consider land and income distribution issues of the existing social relations of productions on which the Green revolution was imposed, led to a widening of income inequalities between regions and classes (Pearse 1980, Shiva 1993, Yapa 1996). Moreover the purchase of input technology (seeds, fertilizers and machinery) necessary epithets of profit, stimulated by state incentives that usually converged in the hands of powerful social groups, “soon acquired a landlord bias” (Yapa, 1996:76) as small farmers became increasingly chained in the endless circle of debt for the production of scarcity.

‘Channa’ Harvest Time in TIlonia, Rajasthan

If poverty is assumed to be the main cause of hunger, then how do we respond to the unequal distribution and access to resources and food that is inherent to the capitalist system and its shameless production of waste, that development seeks to foster?

The proof that sometimes development produces scarcity calls for a basic rethinking of the very word poverty . Until the pockets of Western institutions are filled at the expenses of the third world labourers, through a vicious circle of a system that works by undermining their very re-productive power, there will be no interests in the battle against poverty, that still proves to be less valuable than its deliberate construction.

to be continued….


Forever Missed

‘ At first when we truly love someone, our gratest fear is that they might stop loving us.
What we should fear and dread instead, of course, is that we won’t stop loving THEM, even after they’re dead and gone.
For I still love you with the whole of my heart. I still do. And sometimes, my friend, that love that i have, and I can’t give to you, crushes the breast from my chest. Sometimes, even now, my heart is drowning in a sorrow that has no stars without you, and no laughter, and no sleep. ‘ (Shantaram)


The Widsom of the Past

The Widsom of the Past

Why do I like photos?! Because they draw a story, a story inscribed in the gaze, in the folds and textures of the skin, in the movement of the body and the stolen looks of the soul. Some pictures don’t lie, evoke in the mind the precise memory of a particular moment, a precise feeling … what you were. Certain emotions are not distant anymore, they are there, on the film. And then you remember how wonderful it was to be full of hope in those days gone by … those days in where there was a perpetual possibility of an eternal present.
Goodbye unconscious happiness killed by the past, I wrote your memoirs through small fragments of me.

doesn't fit in a suitcase

everything tastes better with curry

Al di là del Buco

Verso la fine della guerra fredda (e pure calda) tra i sessi

Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

cast away illusions, prepare for struggle!

Traduzioni dall'arabo

Giuseppe Pensabene Perez

Hazara Asylum Seekers

News and analysis about Hazara asylum seekers and refugees


Just another site


Anthropology, energy and development


To show the world my world and the world around me

HarsH ReaLiTy

A Good Blog is Hard to Find


The Best of the visual Web, sifted, sorted and summarized

El Bueno, El Feo y El Malo

Capturing the good, the bad and the ugly of lesser-known Spain and now Southeast Asia

The Open Suitcase

A Miscellany of Travel Tidbits, Tips and Tales


non potete fare affidamento sui vostri occhi se la vostra immaginazione è fuori fuoco (mark twain)

Where In The World Is Dayna...

Bordering on Travel Junkie?

The World Via Standby

Travel unlocks the globe, but exploration doesn't always come with a ticket

Attenti al Lupo

Menaka's Bloggy Blog

My random ramblings.

Live simply, travel lightly, love passionately & don't forget to breathe

Tales From The Road ~ Told By A Woman, Traveling The World Solo. (most of the time)