Solar Mamas Features The Barefoot College on Independent Lens

A girl is not supposed to continue school past age 10 because it’s shameful. The Barefoot College in India wants to change that type of thinking and works to trains impoverished women to become solar engineers. Women come from Guatemala, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Jordan and Colombia.

Sadly, cultural norms are hard to change even when it means doing so can help families and communities break the cycle of poverty.

A new documentary, Solar Mamas, premieres on Independent Lens on Monday, November 5, 2012, at 10 pm on PBS (check local listings). The film takes us on an unforgettable journey to India’s Barefoot College, where rural, poor and often illiterate women from around the world are offered the rare opportunity to receive an education that teaches them how to make their communities self-reliant and sustainable.

During the film we are introduced to Rafea, a Jordanian mother of four who travels outside of her village for the first time ever

Rafea heads to The Barefoot College to become a solar engineer.

to attend Barefoot’s solar engineering program. Once there, she will participate in a life-changing job-training program that will transform her into solar engineer — and change her life.

Getting there isn’t easy for Rafea. Not in the transportation sense, though. Her husband threatens divorce and to take her children if she does not return home. While no real choice in the matter, Rafea goes back to the village and sets out to persuade her husband and other family members that her studies will benefit everyone.

Solar Mamas is eye-opening, inspiring, heart-wrenching and an important film to watch and to discuss with family and friends. I’d love to hear what you think about the film.

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