What is a Solar Mama

Solar Mama is an affectionate term that refers to the uneducated, courageous women from poor, rural communities who are chosen to become solar engineers.  

“Solar Mamas” is based on the idea that these women will become engineers while continuing to be in their roles as mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters. Rather than separating these women from their maternal role, the moniker indicates how their education provides Solar Mamas with even more power to provide stability, guidance and wisdom to those around them.

How are Solar Mamas selected

It takes a village

The selection process to become a Solar Engineer/Solar Mama is carried out in situ by the communities themselves. Most often have the entire community involved in the selection process. It’s done this way because it is important to begin all Solar Mama programs by including the whole community in the journey of choosing which women will become engineers. This helps each individual in the community to feel valued in the process of selection.  Women Light The World works with Barefoot College in this process.

Our shared aim is to help our participating communities better themselves. We want our program to help community members discover the value and skills that exist within their own female family and friends. Ultimately, the changes become self-sustaining because we give local communities ownership and agency over implementing the future.

 

Meet our Solar Mamas from Nepal

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Tsering Pama Lama

Age 39, comes from the village of Thurpa.

She has three children, two boys and one girl.  Her daughter is currently going to college in Kathmandu, while her younger boys study in the village.

 WHAT THIS PROGRAM MEANS TO TSERING:

During the colder months of the year, when the hydroelectric systems break down, it is very costly to light the house via lanterns.  Each family can spend up to 70,000 NPR ( Nepalese Rupee) or USD $675 per annum.  Solar power will greatly diminish this hefty cost that weighs on the families and provides for a cleaner quality of air as well.   

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Chapa Lamu Lama

Age 43, from the village of Barunshe. She has three children and lives in a joint family household with 2 brothers and sister.

 What this program means to Chapa:  

The women of Chapa’s village are not typically allowed to leave the village.  Men are expected to go out into the world and work while the women maintain the house. This trip is Chapa’s first time away from her family and she is excited to be educated and bring back valuable new skills to her village.

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Laiku Lama

Age 43, from the village of Bargaun.

She has three children, two girls and one boy.  While she was not educated, two of her children are currently getting a college education Kathmandu.

 WHAT THIS PROGRAM MEANS TO LAIKU:

Historically, the village of Bargaun has depended on hydroelectricity.  However, the cold winters cause the lines to freeze and break. In turn the villages can go for days without electricity. Laiku will bring back to her village a reliable solar power transforming her life as well as her community.

 
 
WE WANT TO WORK IN UNITY WITH OTHERS SO THAT WE CAN
EXPAND AND IMPACT THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE
— MAMA MIKISIRI HASSAN FAKI