What would it look like if we took impoverished women and made them solar engineers?

Screenshot 2017-04-01 14.09.17Solar Mamas, a 2012 documentary, explored that question. Women from Kenya, Burkina Faso, Congo, Guatemala, Colombia and Jordan set out to Barefoot College in India.

You can imagine the difficult decision these women had to make. Many of them had to choose to disobey or try and persuade their husbands to get approval of the trip. They faced going into the unknown to learn a foreign concept with little to no education. They needed to overcome culture shock and learn to work with instructors and other students- without knowing the language(s).

In six months, they needed to learn how to assemble, wire and create boards (to create solar energy)- many of them not knowing how to to read. Likely the most difficult? Some needed to be away from their children.

All

Impoverished

Women.

All

Told

They

Couldn’t

Do

It.

But they were given a chance: an education.

Screenshot 2017-04-01 14.09.29The results?

Two Jordanian woman, Rafea Al Raja and Seiha Al Raja (a.k.a. Um Bader), returned to their village and installed 80 panels in their first week.

The opportunities brought to the community, to their children, are countless. They can teach the skills of solar energy as well as maintain the panels in their village.

Can you imagine if you applied this knowledge globally?

Funding could go toward supplies, rather than labor. You would be giving people a skill set to maintain the panels or start a business.

Why use women for change?

Typically, men are the breadwinners of the family. It was assumed that women, as dependents, would likewise benefit from support given to men. However, past aid that was given to males tended to make women even more dependent (and did not help widows or women with no male relatives).

An argument began to be made to developmental agencies in the ’70s to include women in training. Why? Unlike men, they are conditioned to put money back into their families and communities (and into long-term goals such as education). This differed from the men received support who put money back into their own self needs.

Lesson learned:

The bravery of these women is something we should all look to. The importance of educating our children, especially our women and girls, is not something that should be taken lightly.

By Lyndsi Petitti

 

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