An Unexpected Journey. A Sudden Test of Courage.
Four indigenous women from Peru traveled to India at the end of February 2020 to be part of the Solar Engineering Program at Barefoot College. It was the first time for each of them to stay away from their home country for the 5 month period as the program is scheduled.
Nobody knew the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic and the four rural women were very resilient and demonstrated full courage during their time in India. They learned about Solar Systems, photovoltaic technology and renewable energies, but most importantly about life: adaptation, other cultures, enduring the pandemic 15,000 miles away from home. All of this with a huge desire to improve their skills, knowledge and capability to transform their lives and their communities in tiny villages located in Loreto and Puno (Peru).
The Courage of the Solar Mamas
Due to the critical conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, Peru included, the government of Peru organized a humanitarian flight to repatriate citizens in India, South East Asia and Europe by June 24th, and after their fourth month of training, the Solar Mamas of Peru returned to Lima.
On the last day, before their long journey back home, our team interviewed the four women from Peru, asking them about their experiences at Barefoot, how they were feeling about returning to their communities and their thoughts as they looked toward the future.
Here’s a short film of their interview:
At Last, A Bittersweet Return Home
Following the health protocols, they had to stay in quarantine in Lima. The government provided a hotel for two weeks and all of them provided negative test results for COVID-19. After the two weeks and with the understanding that no public transportation or flights were allowed in Peru since March, they left the hotel and relocated again- this time with relatives and families. ONAMIAP -Organización Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas Andinas y Amazónicas del Perú-, the strategic local partner for Barefoot College in this project, facilitated support, food and resources for the women during their stay in Lima.
Between 21-23 July, after the National Government authorized the reactivation of public transportation and flights, the women flew to Puno and Iquitos. Now, after five months of learning, unique experiences and a variety of adventures, the Solar Mamas are back home: full of health, an example of hope.
Peru has been hit very hard by COVID-19 and is the country with the sixth-highest number of cases in the world. The Amazon region where Loreto is located is the homeland of Adilia and Emilsen. The situation in Puno, where Nancy and Benita are living is much better with far fewer cases. Some experts have explained with some hypothesis that COVID-19 is less powerful in highlands 9000 ft above sea level.
Thank you to Rodrigo Paris for sharing this insightful update and Manu Singh for conducting the interviews for our Barefoot team.