Due to the success of our first cohort, we progressed our mission to bring renewable energy to Guatemala. Thanks to a major patronage from the Puma Energy Foundation, more Guatemalans will receive solar energy for their homes. Our second cohort of Solar Mamas completed training at our Guatemalan campus, and will install the solar systems.
Partnered with the World Food Programme, our logistical assistor, our team travelled several hours on remote, unpaved roads to meet with local Indigenous Guatemalan leaders and residents to discuss the details of the Solar Training Program. Our task force continues to liaise post-visit, answering questions and resolving any inquiries to ensure candidates and their families feel confident about enrolling throughout the 10-week intensive solar training.
Lights on for Rural Guatemala
Following weeks of coordinating between community leaders and family members, 12 women were selected for enrolment. Their participation equipped them with new skills, practical knowledge and unique experiences, all of which play an integral role in installing 350 solar home lighting systems for their communities in 2024. This project will benefit around 2000 rural people, the largest project in Guatemala since Barefoot College International has been involved with the country.
After conducting our baseline surveys, we gathered data from our solar trainees that will allow us to better understand the demographic we are serving. When asked about their economic and social situations, 100% said they come from villages without access to electricity and earn less than Q3,000 ($400) per year (U$1.09 per day). The results of our surveys also revealed that only 69% have abilities to read and only 30% have abilities to write in Spanish. That’s a 31% illiteracy rate among the women.
Offering Education, Opportunities and Autonomy
This is one of the key reasons that, together with our partners, we targeted the Ixil Maya region of Quiché to serve some of the most vulnerable communities in the country. All of them suffer from a lack of services, the absence of the State, migration pressures for the youngest and brutal disruptions due to Climate Change. Barefoot College International Guatemala is on track to provide new opportunities, services and solutions where they otherwise may have never arrived.
The 1st day of Solar Class started on Monday the 18th of September 2023. The women were on a learning journey at our campus in the village of Batzul until the 23rd of November 2023. The students acquired new skills and knowledge at an impressive speed. They adapted to our cafeteria food and the peaceful environment of the campus. They unanimously declared in a recent virtual call that they felt safe, accomplished and committed to bringing light to their communities.
Trainees in Guatemala Gain Aspirations and Confidence
In addition to their practical solar training, trainees also participated in our women empowerment workshops known as Enriche. During these comprehensive and locally tailored workshops, they experienced and shared new ideas about their agency and aspirations. They also acquired relevant skills including sexual health, digital literacy and entrepreneurial skills.
The graduation ceremony took place last week at our campus in Batzul village, Quiché. Attending the event were family members of the students and representatives of partnership institutions such as The World Food Program, Chajulense Association, the Embassy of India in Guatemala, and national media.
The 10-week training overcame several challenges; in October, the national blockades and food shortages, and in November the consequences of tropical storm Pilar. But the resilience of the women, the support of allies and the determination of our team were key elements to complete the program. We are excited to announce our 2nd graduating class of Solar Women from Guatemala!
It is our core mission to provide educational opportunities like these to more marginalized women. If you feel a calling to support our programs, anywhere in the world that we operate, you can make a donation to Barefoot College International here.