What is a Solar Mama

Solar Mamas is an affectionate term that refers to the uneducated, courageous women from poor, rural communities who are chosen to become solar engineers. These women will become solar engineers while continuing to be mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters.

How Solar Mamas are Selected

It takes a village

The selection process to become a Solar Engineer/Solar Mama is carried out in situ by the communities. Most often the entire community is 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. 

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.

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It takes a village

Meet our Solar Mamas from Nepal

Laiku Lama

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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.

Chapa Lamu Lama

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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.

Tsering Pama Lama

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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.   

HOW WE ARE DOING THIS - OUR FIRST PROJECT IN NEPAL

Women Light the World is collaborating with Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India and Responsible Treks from Kathmandu, Nepal to bring solar energy to 1,275 households across 28 villages in the poorest and most remote area of Humla, Nepal. We send women to Barefoot College to be trained as Solar Engineers (affectionately known as "Solar Mamas").

wHAT WILL THEY LEARN?

During the next 3 to 5 years, 25 + semi-literate and illiterate women from Nepal will team up with other women from around the globe, enrolled in the flagship solar training program at Barefoot College for 6 months of experiential learning. They will graduate as Solar Engineers, equipped with the skills and knowledge to fabricate, maintain and repair solar systems. Upon their return home, each woman will be competent to manage the entire process of installation and maintenance within their respective community. 

What is enrich training?

Alongside the solar training, the women participate in the ENRICHE curriculum that introduces them to the principals of entrepreneurship with a focus on environmental stewardship. The classes are language agnostic and use experiential learning to make the content accessible to all, regardless of where they come from and their literacy capabilities.  The course includes 200 + hours in the following topics: 

  • Self-Awareness

  • Women’s Health

  • Financial Literacy

  • Digital Literacy

  • Environmental Stewardship

  • Human Rights and Civil Society

  • Livelihood and Micro-Enterprise Skills

OUR intended outcomes

When a Solar Mama turns the lights on in her home community, a virtuous cycle of transformation gets underway. Through this project, these are a few of the outcomes we will achieve:

  • Economic activity increases dramatically

  • Children study three times longer than previously

  • Health outcomes and persistent health concerns improve immediately

  • Environmental sustainability is catalyzed

  • Disaster response and mitigation strategies are set in place

  • Gender roles are challenged and in most communities overcome

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