The nine women from rural Botswana who left their homes in August last year to attend the Barefoot College in India on a skills development journey are headed home with new qualifications in hand that will enable them to light up their communities with solar power.
The Great Plains Foundation working with local community organisations, the Okavango Community Trust (OCT), Village Development Committees (VDC) and Dikgosi identified the nine women from five villages in the Okavango Delta to receive solar energy training in India.
The initiative is aimed at enabling women to build, install and maintain solar panels and batteries to provide a renewable source of energy to their communities. Barefoot College has been working on the program for over 7 years providing training to rural, unemployed women to become solar engineers – bringing clean power and light to their villages. The training runs over six months, and the program uses mostly visual learning tools, like color-coded pictures and manuals. All the women selected are over 30 and established in their communities.
After successfully completing their training the women are returning to their villages to start working and empowering their communities with skills and power. They will run the construction of Rural Electrification Workshops, which will be a base for the storage of the solar equipment and their tools. A Rural Electrification Committee will then be established, to oversee the Solar Engineers and orders from the families who would like to receive solar home lighting systems. The women will be responsible for installing and maintaining these solar homes lighting systems, continuing their existing enterprises with improved financial understanding, and provide training to other women in their villages, based on their experiences in India.
“Solar energy is gradually becoming a go-to sustainable power source, inspiring many along the way. At Great Plains, we understand that empowering women will go a long way in ensuring sustainability and longevity in supporting their families and contributing to the development of their communities. While we continue to share our passion for using renewable energy and looking after our planet, we are also glad to be able to change lives and inspire communities. We are truly grateful and proud of these women for this accomplishment, this will open many doors for them,” said Dereck Joubert, Great Plains founder and CEO.
The Great Plains Foundation is proud to work with the Barefoot College who has been doing incredible work in this space for women around the world. They seek to demystify and decentralise technology and put new tools in the hands of the rural poor with a singular objective of spreading self-sufficiency and sustainability.
The women will be touching down at OR Tambo on the 17th of February before making their way to Gaborone that evening, they will spend the day in Gaborone before the final leg of their journey to Maun, Botswana on the 19th where they will be greeted by a welcome home celebration at Great Plains Conservation before returning to their villages on the 20th of February.
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