It is quite unimaginable that in this day and age, there are still many villages and hamlets in the province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) where people still live in the dark as electricity has not reached their place. Their only source of light is the God-given natural light from the sun and the moon, and from kerosene lamps.
But with the advent of new technology, Solar generated poweris increasingly available in the market and is becoming more and more affordable.
24 "Solar Mamas" In 4 batches
The Solar Electrification and Rainwater Harvesting program is a regular course offering of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) for so many years now. Barefoot College International (BCI) in Tilonia, India is the implementing institution of the said program. In Indonesia, Wadah Titian Harapan Foundation (Wadah) has been designated as the local partner of Barefoot College International in identifying participants to the program. Apart from ITEC, BCI and Wadah Foundation, the Embassy of the India in Indonesia is the fourth party involved in the program.
It was in 2013 when Wadah Foundation initially sent eight illiterate and semi-illiterate rural women from Maumere, Flores and Koa, TTS in NTT to the program. These 8 women were Rasmi, Intan, Maria Adelfina, Agnes, Maria Karolina, Hanafia all from Maumere, Flores, and Dominggas de Jesus and Olandina Rangel from TTS, NTT. During their 6-month training at Barefoot College, the solar mamas were introduced to a variety of electronic tools and parts such as solar panels, transistor, capacitors, resistors and electrolytes condensers and trained them how to assemble those parts into solar panels. In addition, they were also taught how to manage the installations, how to preserve and improve the solar power system.
In September 2018, another batch of 5 women this time from Alor Island and Koa, TTS in Nusa Tenggara Timur participated in the program. They were Sara Kamesa, Meriana Mailani, Lenora Maibila from Alor, Flores, while Yumina Ferderika Kune and Yohana Franklin from Koa Village, TTS. Last March 2019, another 4 women joined the program and they were Serly Serfice Bendelina Sanam from Koa Village, TTS, Ariance Manalang, Agustina Maufani and Susana Maima from Alor, Flores. All of the above women, now called Solar Engineers have safely returned back to their villages.
Additional Training as a Bonus
While they were at Barefoot College, they were not only busy with solar power assembling tasks, but were also taught various other life skills, this include making sanitary pads, lace crafts, knitting bags and baskets, candle- and chalk-making, cash crop farming, and growing medicinal herbs.
Going on a Tour to Taj Mahal
In addition, they were also given the opportunity to relax, go on a picnic, and visit one of the world’s wonder, the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Fourth Batch of Solar Mamas
This September, the Fourth Batch of Seven (7) Solar Mamas left for India last Sept 13, 2019 to attend the Solar Electrification and Rainwater Harvesting Program at Barefoot College, Tilonia, Rajashtan, India. The seven women, like their predecessors, will learn how to assemble, install, and repair solar power on the Barefoot College campus for 5months (September 2019 to February 2020). This Fourth batch of solar mamas are as follows: Florida Teang, Mrselina Nena, Yohana Tawa from Tedamude Village, Paulina Toyofrom Rendu Butowe Village, Albina Bai from Pagomogo Village, Elisabeth Ndaru from Mbay II Village, and Ludgardis Tibu from Tadakisa Village, Nagekeo Regency, NTT Province.
In the future, it is expected that more rural women from various regions in Indonesia who still do not have access to electricity may also be given the opportunity to join the program at Barefoot College, Tilonia, Rajashtan, India and bring light to their villages.