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

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An April 2011 article from Wired tells the story of one woman from Namibia:

"Susanna Huis arrived back in Namibia in September and waited for her solar-engineering equipment to arrive by ship from India.... The next year looked to be busy but financially stable: Local people will each pay her $5 per month for the power, which is roughly what they would spend on kerosene or firewood. If she needs spare parts they will be sent from India. While her husband continues to farm their smallholding, she is now the family breadwinner.... She has signed a contract that commits her to electrifying 100 homes and maintaining them for the next five years. And she will teach others how to do it. This means that she can't move away from her village, which is fine with her: she doesn't want to go anywhere else."

As of Dec. 1, there were 700 more women graduates turning the lights on in 1,015 formerly unelectrified villages around the world, claims Barefoot’s webpage.

The program is partially funded by the government of India, and it’s provided under the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific.

The Times reports, "Grants from the United Nations Development Program and active partnerships with nongovernmental sustainable development organizations, including the Skoll Foundation in the United States, the Fondation Ensemble in France, and the Het Groene Woudt in the Netherlands, have also increased the program’s reach."

Currently, Barefoot works in 48 countries with 64 partners, including NGOs, community trusts, and government programs, to implement the college’s program, “Nongovernmental organizations are playing a central role in spreading word of the program and implementing it outside India,” the Times explains.

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