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INDEPENDENT LENS: Solar Mamas

Airs Monday, November 5, 2012 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Female engineers from Jordan.

Welcome 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.

Courtesy of Mona Eldaief

Rafea in the classroom at Barefoot College with a fellow student looking at what she's writing.

Courtesy of Neil Davenport

The students are "learning-by-doing" in the classroom at Barefoot College, India.

Courtesy of Mona Eldaief

Rafea, Badr and Umm Badr at a village meeting after returning from India.

Courtesy of Mona Eldaief

Rafea in the village with her son and daughter.

Rafea, a beautiful, strong-willed 32-year-old Jordanian mother of four, is traveling outside of her village for the first time ever to attend Barefoot’s solar engineering program.

Once there, she will join women from Guatemala, Kenya, Burkina Faso, and Colombia in a life-changing, six-month job training program that will transform her into a solar engineer — and change her life. "Solar Mamas" premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS in November 2012.

As the world’s only college built by and for the poor, Barefoot’s groundbreaking program addresses the needs of rural communities for both jobs and sustainable energy by teaching women the skills they need to create solar energy and then earn a living by practicing the trade and teaching it to others.

In addition to an education, the college experience provides new friendships and an eye-opening adventure for women who have never before been on their own. But Rafea’s adventure is soured by her husband’s threat to divorce her and take their children if she does not return home.

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 will benefit everyone.

In her journeys to India, back home, and then back to India, Rafea goes through a profound transformation, returning to Jordan stronger and more confident, with the skills to earn an income and help her community in ways never done before.

"Solar Mamas" is part of the international WHY POVERTY? Project, a groundbreaking, cross- media event reaching more than 500 million people around the world via over 60 international television broadcasters as well as radio, internet, and live events in November 2012.

A second WHY POVERTY? Film, Alex Gibney’s "Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream," will premiere on INDEPENDENT LENS, and it airs on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 11 p.m. on KPBS-TV. For more information on the WHY POVERTY? Project, visit whypoverty.net.

INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter. Rafea: Solar Mama is on Facebook.

Video

Trailer: Independent Lens: Solar Mamas

Your browser does not support this object. Content can be viewed at actual source page: http://video.kpbs.org/video/2273191267

Watch The Sky's the Limit for the Women of Barefoot College on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

Above: India’s Barefoot College, founded by Bunker Roy, provides impoverished rural women with an education that empowers them to make their communities self-reliant and sustainable. Rafea, a 30-year-old Jordanian mother of four, is traveling outside of her village for the first time to attend Barefoot’s solar engineering program. Once there, she will join women from Guatemala, Kenya, Burkina Faso and Colombia in learning concrete skills to change their communities. "Solar Mamas" is directed by Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief; produced by Mette Heide.

Video

Video Excerpt: Independent Lens: Solar Mamas

Your browser does not support this object. Content can be viewed at actual source page: http://video.kpbs.org/video/2285864821

Watch Culture Shock and Curiosity at the Barefoot College on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

Comments

Avatar for user 'kfolling'

kfolling | November 6, 2012 at 1:05 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

Programs like this show how connected we all are. I could totally identify with the women and their struggle to be good mothers and bring positive things to their communities as different as the languages and customs are. There has to be a way to better integrate the men in the process too. Let the solar lights shine!

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