After her husband became ill, Mariatou’s dreams were on hold. Now, she’s a confident solar engineer ready to transform her village. Here’s her story.
Mariatou is one of the most recent women solar engineers to be trained at the Barefoot College International training centre in Senegal. Her story is one of incredible perseverance and strength, shaped by the many challenges she faced growing up in a small village in Senegal.
The Luxury of Light
Once, Mariatou dreamed of building a concrete house for her family. Sadly, her husband fell ill, and she had to use all her savings for his treatment.
The absence of electricity in her village made it even more difficult for Mariatou and her community. She struggled to cook in the dark or to do any other work.
As she recalls, “It was really tough, we have to cook dinner very early during the sunlight, and when it rained for days, it was very hard to see far away in the open, and the wild animals would come to the village to kill our livestock, which is a huge loss for us.“
For Mariatou, even the most basic of needs, like having a reliable source of light, were unaffordable luxuries. “If we wanted electricity,” she says, “we had to buy batteries for torches to use at night, which were very expensive for us and not a long-term solution.”
This lack of electricity also meant that many children in her village struggled with their studies, as they were forced to study in the dim light of kerosene lamps.
A Life-Changing Opportunity
When Barefoot College International representatives arrived in Mariatou’s village to offer a solar training programme, she was initially hesitant to participate. She was illiterate and scared of the unknown, doubting her abilities to learn new skills.
But her love for her family and her community’s pressing need for electricity and light drove her to take a leap of faith and enrol in the program. She recalls, “I thought, ‘You cannot always find all the solutions in your village, sometimes you have to go out to explore more’.“
Solar: A Journey of Transformation
The solar training programme changed Mariatou’s life in ways she never thought possible. She went from being a woman with limited opportunities to a skilled solar engineer, capable of setting up and maintaining solar products.
Her newfound knowledge gave her the confidence to tackle new challenges and share her expertise with her community. As she proudly states, “I am not only taking my mind full of new knowledge and things but also my hands full of things. I will be treated like a ‘Queen’ or a ‘hero’ when I will go back to my village.”
Looking to the Future for Mariatou
Mariatou’s journey serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of education and access to resources. With the skills and knowledge she gained through the Solar programme, she can now help bring light and hope to her village.
As she looks back on her journey, Mariatou says, “I am very thankful to Barefoot College International and DP World, and to everyone who made this possible for me. I am grateful that I can bring light to my village, especially for those houses who could not afford solar panels. I cannot express how happy and grateful I am.“
Thanks to DP World and their ongoing support of our training centre in Senegal, 27 rural women have already been trained as solar engineers.