‘Solar Grannies’ return to Fiji

Fiji’s Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, has met with 10 Grandmothers on their return from India. The women are the county’s first solar engineers, as a result of their training at the Barefoot College in Rajasthaan, India. Prime Minister Bainimarama congratulated the women and told them that they are a ‘source of inspiration’ and that they will be ‘remembered in Fiji’s History’.

The role these women will play in their country’s future is obviously an important one, they have been labeled an asset for the country as they will ‘light up villages that have been haunted by darkness for years’.

The Barefoot College itself has been running for over 40 years, its long-term mission has been to work with the marginalized, the exploited, and the impoverished. Their goal is to help the poor lift themselves, with dignity and self-respect, over the poverty line. The organisation say they are first and only rural college in India built by the poor and exclusively for the poor. The concept is an interesting one, based on the beliefs of Mahatma Gandhi, that skills, wisdom and knowledge that exist within villages already should be applied to help the rural poor aid their own development.

The college also believes that technology, such as solar PV, should be explained and that technology placed in the hands of the poor. Importantly it states women, who have been marginalised in some societies, should be given equal opportunities to learn.

One of the grandmothers Marica Caginitoba, from Nabouono, Vanua Levu, said that she will be teaching her village what she has learnt in India and that the ten grandmothers are good examples to other women in the country where nothing is impossible when you set your mind to it.

Image via FijiVillage

© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Rebecca Boyle