Monday, December 26, 2011

Solar lighting for Udu villages?

from w
There's an interesting idea - to train four grandmothers from Udu villages in solar engineering to go back to their villages to install electricity. Will the men take notice of the older women when they come back? Story from the Fiji Sun today. will they be taught in English, Hindi or Fijian? The reference is to 'illiterate women' which is rather a put-down as the women of Fiji are not illiterate at all. Also, the idea is for the village to become motivated to do many other things. Perhaps this is a nice dream but hey, it's not easy doing development in the rural areas.

North 4 to India stint
December 27, 2011 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom

Four women, each from four different villages in the Northern Division, will be going to Rajasthaan, India next year. They will attend six-month training as solar engineers. This is a collaborative initiative between the United Nations Women and the Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation to empower women in Fiji.
The founder of Barefoot College in India, Bunker Roy, accompanied by the Commissioner Northern Lieutenant-Colonel Ilai Moceica and United Nations Women regional programme director, Lena Lindberg selected the women last week. Mr Roy said his selection was based on four important criteria. “The village should not be connected to any electricity grid. There should not be any electricity generator. Less wealthy village and without outside help,” Mr Roy said. He said the selection looked at the poorest of the poor villages without power supply.

Lieutenant-Colonel Moceica said the four women who were grandmothers were from Udu Point, Kubulau, Lutukina and Vunidogoloa. “Grandmothers were chosen from these villages so that they can come back from India with the training to install solar lights to light up their village without seeking help from outside,” Lieutenant-Colonel Moceica said.
He thanked the Ministry of Women and United Nation Women for this initiative and creating opportunities for women. “Very soon these four villages will be the model of a modernised setup in the North and it would help encourage other villagers to make changes,” Lieutenant-Colonel Moceica said. He said this set-up would bring improvement in the lives of women and their households. “The fear to cook food early in the morning in the outside kitchen under the small kerosene lantern would soon f He said poor families would then not need to worry about spending money on buying kerosene.

“Once these solar lights will be installed in the villages, I believe men would begin to build toilets, bathrooms and kitchens attached to their houses, under one roof, to provide security for and peace of mind to women,” Lieutenant-Colonel Moceica said. He believes that in the next three years, the landscape, housing, business and education in rural villages in the North would be lifted to a better standard.

UN Women regional programme director Lena Lindberg said she was glad that the husbands of the chosen trainees were so supportive by allowing them to travel to India to be trained.

“India, through its Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) programme, will fund the training and when these trainees return to their villages they will, in turn, train people in the installation and maintenance of the solar electricity system,” Ms Lindberg said. She said UN Women would be providing all the necessary equipment for the solar setup and the village would be responsible for the maintenance.

When asked why he chose grandmothers to be trainees Mr Roy replied that grandmothers would not run away from their villages for greener pastures like youths. “We chose illiterate grandmothers to be trained because they understand the important basic need in life, like electricity. They would share the knowledge and lift the standard of their village without having any intention to run away to overseas or to Suva to earn an income,” Mr Roy said.

He said this would be big challenge for the grandmothers but not for him.

“We have trained more than three million people around the world for jobs as solar engineers, teachers, midwives, architects and doctors,” Mr Roy said.

He said he had trained more than 300 grandmothers from Africa to become solar engineers and now he wanted to provide the same opportunity for women in Fiji.Mr Roy said 10 women in Fiji had been selected to be trained in India and they would leave by next March.


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