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Barefoot College will launch a groundbreaking solar training project in Puerto Rico this spring. The project, with critical first-level funding from the Center of Disaster Philanthropy, will create a system of reliable, climate-friendly energy that can be protected from hurricanes and re-activated within hours. Residents of the inland regions of Puerto Rico waited for up to ten months to have power again after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

The partnership of CDP, Friends of Barefoot College, and Puerto Rico’s Bosque Modelo, will train up to 40 local women to become Solar Mamas, the first training of its kind with United States citizens.

Alana Feldman Soler, program manager for Bosque Modelo, says the program will create energetic sustainability that is vitally necessary in the aftermath of the hurricane. Soler said her own community was out of power for nearly a year after Maria.

She said this partnership with its focus on energy and with women as prime movers of change in Puerto Rico is a perfect match.

“Being able to work and train with women is vital for us because Bosque Modelo has learned that women are really the pillars of this community.”

Alana Feldman Soler
Throughout Puerto Rico, including these homes in the capital of San Juan, recovery and restoration has been difficult. Many homes remain destroyed.

The training will be led in part by Solar Mamas trained at the Barefoot College campus in India, including some from Latin America. This second generation application of Barefoot’s successful training programs in India and Africa is the first of its kind for the Americas.

This unique approach to women-led change is what caught the attention of world leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron and India Prime Minister Narenda Modi at the Inter Solar Alliance Conference in India in 2018.

“Each Solar Mama trains 10 women to develop solar energy, which in turn will each train 10 women who in turn… This is how we change the world: We launch a movement of transmission!”

French President Emmanuel Macron

Each woman trained will be able to install basic solar capability for up to 100 families and will be able to continue to provide maintanence and support once installed.

“The Bosque Model area has a high ecological value for Puerto Rico,” Soler said. “This region is the breadbasket for the island, and we supply safe water for much of the east. We want to make sure this vital region is safe and protected for the future.”

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