Independent Lens "Solar Mamas"

Independent Lens "Solar Mamas"

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 3:00pm

The sky's the limit for the female solar engineering students at India's Barefoot College.

Photo credit: Independent Television Service (ITVS)

Rafea is 30 years old with four children and a husband who is eager to take a third wife. She is a Bedouin woman living in a small Jordanian village close to the desert. With encouragement from the country's Ministry of Environment, she leaves her village for the first time to go to the Barefoot College in India to train to become a solar-energy engineer. The Barefoot College in India was founded by Bunker Roy to provide knowledge and training to the rural poor to empower them to make their communities self-reliant and sustainable. Solar Mamas airs Monday, March 16 at 3 p.m. on WXXI World. 

The solar course at Barefoot College has women from Kenya, Burkina Faso, Columbia, and Guatemala. And now Rafea from Jordan. She is the first Jordanian woman ever to attend such a program, and she dreams of returning to bring much-needed income and talents to support her family and village. But two months into the program, Rafea’s husband insists that she return home or he will divorce her and take her children. With no real choice in the matter, Rafea goes back to her village and sets out to persuade her husband and other family members that her studies in India benefit everyone. In her journey away from home, back, and then away once more, Rafea goes through a profound transformation, returning as an educated woman with the skills to earn an income and achieve for her community what others could not.

Watch the trailer here:

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