A visit to Barefoot College in India

Camilla Fröhlich is a lawyer from South Africa and is admitted to practice as a
"foreign lawyer" in Germany. She works in the Infrastructure, Energy, Resources and
Projects (in short: IERP) team headed by Ulrich Helm in Frankfurt.

She advises on contracts for infrastructure and construction projects and on disputes associated with these. In addition, she supports Tobias Faber in the expansion of our Africa practice. As part of her pro bono work, Camilla Fröhlich has been advising Barefoot College for over one and a half years. When it comes to "renewable energies and sustainability", there is a direct connection to her IERP legal advice. Together with colleagues from five other Hogan Lovells offices around the world, she worked for Barefoot College on a study on human rights. In October 2018, she had the opportunity to travel to India and participate in a new project there.

India, sustainability, comics, human rights and … Camilla 

Pro bono trip to the village of Tilonia in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan

We brought together two of our pro bono clients, Barefoot College and PositiveNegatives, for a pilot project aimed at educating rural women about human rights in India, called Drawing on Rights. This project uses the power of visual images to empower women to uphold the rule of law as human rights defenders in their local communities. We're working with Barefoot's education team and our social enterprise client PositiveNegatives to transform human rights legal research into comics and animations that Barefoot's illiterate solar mamas can access to learn about human rights and how to prevent abuses from happening in their communities. This is a community-led and innovative way to empower rural women to understand and uphold the rule of law and promote access to justice.

Barefoot College is Hogan Lovells' Global Citizenship partner. They help people in poorer regions to achieve a better, independent future for themselves, and align their training projects with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Their flagship project involves training women to become "Solar Mamas". After being trained, the women work as solar engineers, ensuring the availability of environmentally friendly and inexpensive sources of energy in their villages, work which often opens up business opportunities for them such as their own small shops or restaurants.

PositiveNegatives is a non-profit organisation which, together with various partners, aims to educate people on issues such as human rights, racism, migration and asylum. It researches stories locally, turns them into comics, animated films or podcasts, and then uses these as easy-to-understand educational material.

In this joint project by Barefoot College, PositiveNegatives and Hogan Lovells, everyone contributes what they do best: Barefoot College its local infrastructure, PositiveNegatives its ability to tell stories and Hogan Lovells its expertise in the area of legal advice.

Camilla Fröhlich spent five days in India with Anu Jain (Director of Enriche, Barefoot), Sara Wong (Project Manager at PositiveNegatives) and their teams as well as Jyoti Wadhwana (Finance Manager, Hogan Lovells Dubai).


Together, they prepared interviews in the small village of Tilonia in order to survey the women regarding their knowledge of human rights. The information gained in this way serves as a basis for comics, which the people in Tilonia and elsewhere will later receive as educational material.

"Coming from South Africa, I know what poverty looks like, but what I encountered in India was of a different dimension"

Over two days, the group interviewed more than 50 women in the village. What the interviews revealed: the concept of human rights is virtually unknown there and the women's everyday lives are determined entirely by their husbands and mothers-in-law. There is no "right to education" or a "right to health" for these women and.they struggle to assert their autonomy over their health and wellbeing.

For Camilla Fröhlich, who has seen up close in her home country of South Africa what poverty and lack of education look like, the scale of the problems was shocking. Thus, it was all the more satisfying when she saw for herself that these initial interviews were already having an impact: the women who were interviewed asked a lot of questions and are already waiting impatiently for the comics.

The project also enabled Camilla Fröhlich to create good contacts with Barefoot and PositiveNegatives. She is the first lawyer from Germany to get to know both organisations personally and will use her contacts to further develop our projects in the future.

If you would like to get involved to support Barefoot and the solar mamas, contact [email protected] or your local Citizenship committee.


Hogan Lovells: Camilla Fröhlich, IERP Frankfurt (project work and research) and Jyoti Wadhwana, Finance Dubai (interpreting)

Barefoot: Anu Jain – Director of Enriche (Social Enterprise, Empowerment and Education) and his team: Ruchika Kanoi, Arushi Dhawan and Manu Singh

PositiveNegatives: Sara Wong (Project Manager) and Ayesha Mago (External Consultant)

Hogan Lovells and Barefoot College

In 2017, Hogan Lovells entered into a three-year partnership with Barefoot College to train 400 solar mamas who will solar electrify 20,000 households and bring light to 200,000 people in 35 countries. We provide support worldwide in the form of pro bono legal advice, volunteer work and donations. Barefoot College was founded in India back in 1972 by Bunker Roy, who, according to Time Magazine in 2010, is one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Barefoot College's aim is to help people in poorer villages to achieve a better, independent future for themselves.

Our joint projects include:
  • Pro bono: research on subjects such as human rights
  • Touch (donations): Solar Mamas: training women to become solar engineers
  • Community Investment: Barefoot Futures: workshops in schools on the subject of sustainability

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