It looks like Sabah will be having more grandmothers-turned-engineers in the future.
by Stanley P, Carrybeans
Good news, everyone! Sabah will become a brighter place in the future, thanks to our state’s very own solar engineers. Oh, they happen to be grandmas too.
Last Sunday, Sabah Women Entrepreneurs and Professionals Association (Swepa) President Datuk Aminah Ambrose said the association has been given land space for Sabah’s very own Barefoot Malaysia College in Tenom!
According to Daily Express, a seven-acre site complete with buildings was allocated to Swepa for the college by the state government’s Yayasan Sabah Group. But what’s this about grandmothers?
Training rural women in solar engineering
Following in the footsteps of Barefoot College in Tilonia, India, illiterate or semi-literate grandmothers from Sabah’s interior will be trained in solar engineering at the college. These “solar mamas” will help bring electricity to communities.
This means more women can bring light to homes in Sabah’s interior, using power from the sun. “With a college of this nature in Sabah, we can empower more rural women with solar technology skills and light up more (off grid) villages in Sabah,” Ambrose said.
Barefoot College: Empowering women of the world
The Barefoot College was first formed as Social Work and Research Centre (SWRC). Bunker Roy founded the college in Tilonia, Rajasthan in 1972 . The college’s main goal is to make solar technology available to people in rural areas, and promote sustainability.
For six months, the women learn to build, install, maintain and repair solar power system in areas with limited access to electricity. In 1997, Kamala Devi became the college’s very first solar engineer. Since it opened in the 1980s, grandmothers from over 80 countries have been trained.
Making Sabah a better, brighter place
So far, Sabah has sent three women for the six-month training: Tarihing Masanim, Gining Jaineh, and Rusni Singkamung. Tarihing was the first Malaysian woman and completed her solar engineering training in 2014. Since then, she has managed to install solar panels for 100 houses in her village. The other two completed their training in 2016.
Today, more than 200 households in Sabah are enjoying lighting thanks to these solar mamas. Awesome!
The allocation of the land is certainly good news for those in rural areas. Communities still without access to proper lighting in their homes will greatly benefit. At the same time, the college empowers more women to have a career in the science field. So, you go, girls!
Are you looking forward to more Sabahan grandmothers becoming “solar mamas”? Let us know in the comments below.
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Featured Image Credit: SWEPA Barefoot Solar Project Borneo