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'Solar Mamas': Barefoot College women turn on the lights in off-grid villages

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Rafiq Maqbool/AP/File

(Read caption) A barber trims the hair of a customer using light from a solar-powered lantern in Shirva north of Mangalore, India. Rural Indian women are learning to install and maintain solar equipment at India's Barefoot College.

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“Train a grandmother, change the world” – so says Barefoot College’s motto. This school says nobody's better suited to bring solar power to the rural poor.

Last year, the New York Times reported on the unlikeliest of heroes: African women who travel to the Barefoot College in India to learn to become solar engineers. This year, a BBC documentary Solar Mamas recounted the story of one Bedouin woman who makes the trek from Jordan and eventually electrifies her village and her life.

The video, which aired on PBS Nov. 5, depicts the hurdles one rural woman faces in pursuit of educating herself and bettering her community. Extrapolate this story to the 700 stories from women across the globe and the map of impact is impressive.


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