I was lucky enough to get the chance to speak to the two women you see pictured above- Rifia and Seiha who are from Jordan- during their stay in India where they were training to become solar engineers. When I eventually managed to track them down (I just kept repeating ‘Jordan?’ to whoever picked up the phone at the college and it worked!), they seemed eager to speak to anyone who spoke Arabic- even if mine is a little on the dodgy side.
This March 2011, they completed their six month training and returned to Jordan to start a new life for their village. Hopefully, they willl manage to attract enough attention for a sponser to pay for the start-up costs for the solar panels- if only so that they get a chance to put their skills into practice and bring solar power to their villages in the harsh deserts of Jordan. Here’s the piece I wrote about them for Green Prophet….
For many living in the harsh and desolate deserts of south Jordan, life without electricity is the norm. Either the infrastructure which provides electricity doesn’t reach them or they simply don’t have the money to afford it. However, all that looks set to change as two women bring to light the advantages of solar energy.
Two Jordanian Bedouin women have recently returned from a six-month course at a unique college in India where they were trained as solar engineers. The two women, who are illiterate and have never been employed, were carefully selected by the elders in the village to attend the course at Barefoot college in India which helps poor rural communities become more sustainable.
“We’ve been taught about solar energy and solar panels and how to generate light,” explains Rafi’a Abdul Hamid, a mother of four who lives in a tent in the deserts of south Jordan. “Hopefully when we return we will be able to teach others and use everything we’ve learnt here in India to improve our village.”
Building Sustainable Bedouin Communities
Many of the Bedouin communities in Jordan which previously lived off their herds, are now highly dependent on government handouts. They usually make up the poorest sector of society and have a very low standard of living. As such the government sees this project as a strategic way to encourage these poor villages to generate their own energy and also become more self-sufficient.
Raouf Dabbas, the senior advisor to the Ministry of Environment in Jordan told Green Prophet: “Providing this green technology to the rural community, whilst it will not have a major impact on reducing climate change, it will have a profound impact on the socio-economic position of the bedouins and it will help improve their standard of living.”