Rural Women Development Centre, RUWDEC, has received its third batch of Solar Mama Engineers after they completed a solar electrification and other skills acquisition training in India.
The women, referred to as Solar Mamas, were trained during a six months programme, thanks to a partnership between RUWDEC Cameroon, and Barefoot College Tilonia-India.
The 3rd batch of Solar Mama engineers comprised of six rural women from Cameroon, who after five months in India, are returning as experts in solar engineering. After their training in India, the women have as mission, a task to train others, and electrify potions of their communities, using solar panels that will be provided to them, as part of the programme.
Apart from the Solar Engineering programme, the women were also trained on how to make environmentally friendly sanitary pads, mushroom cultivation, compost making as well as water harvesting.
Unlike participants from other countries around the world, who also benefited from the project, Solar Mamas from Cameroon rather spent five months in India during the training. The Solar Mamas from Cameroon explained that their training was easier, because they easily grasped the skills compared to other participants. “They told us that we were smarter, so instead of spending six months like others, we spent five months. Our ability to speak English and easily understand helped us tremendously.’ They said.
The Solar Mamas, however, joked that unlike others, they could not help each other out with answers when they were called in front of other trainees. They said since they spoke only English and Pidgin English, they could not whisper answers to each other, unlike other participants who whispered answers to each other in their local languages.
RUWDEC revealed at the press conference that as part of their project and partnership with Barefoot College Tilonia-India, the trained women from rural communities in Cameroon who have benefited from the fully sponsored six months solar power engineering training in India, will in the days ahead, be each provided with 50 solar panels to electrify some homes in their communities. The women, who now belong to Solar Clubs, will be in charge of repairing the solar panels and systems. They will also train other community members on how to take care of the panels.
During the press conference, RUWDEC announced that it will, in the days ahead, organise trainings on the production of environmentally friendly menstrual pads and hygiene, production of mushrooms, compost production and others. The workshops will also gain expert knowledge from the trainees from India, who were well-trained on the different sectors.
Asked whether, with their knowledge and skills acquired from India, they could now take contracts to install solar power systems, the Solar Mamas said their training was limited to home installations, and solar-powered lamps. The women however said, the second phase of the project might see them handling industrial-scale solar electrification projects.
The participants said some of the challenges they faced included language barriers, since most participants who were mostly semi-literate rural women mostly spoke and understood their local languages. The Solar Mamas said they had to solve some math problems, as well as master color codes.
Some of the beneficiaries of the project, Solar Mamas from Manyu, already received their 50 solar panels to electrify their communities.