Photos: Trained in Rajasthan, Solar Mamas bring light to rural Mexico

Life without electricity in Cachimbo, Mexico, a tattered town of 150 in Oaxaca state is a thing of the past. Where the government’s electrical grid was deemed unviable over remoteness and expense, a group of upskilled Solar Mamas –trained at the Barefoot College in Tiloia,Rajasthan under a program designed exclusively to provide skills to women —have established solar power and electricity generated locally, pulling not just Cachimbo out of darkness but also inspiring other remote communities to do the same.

UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2018 02:22 PM IST 8 Photos
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In the tattered town of Cachimbo, Mexico, population 150, people lived with few roads, infrequent rain and candles or kerosene lamps as the only source of light. But life changed after Norma Guerra and three other local women went to the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan returning as ‘Solar Mamas’. Since then they’ve installed dozens of solar panels, batteries and wiring that now run lights all over Cachimbo. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

In the tattered town of Cachimbo, Mexico, population 150, people lived with few roads, infrequent rain and candles or kerosene lamps as the only source of light. But life changed after Norma Guerra and three other local women went to the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan returning as ‘Solar Mamas’. Since then they’ve installed dozens of solar panels, batteries and wiring that now run lights all over Cachimbo. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2018 02:22 PM IST
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Guerra met Sanjit Roy in 2013 when he arrived on a tip-off that Cachimbo may be a candidate for Solar Mamas. Roy founded Barefoor College, a center providing educational and vocational training for the rural poor over four decades ago. Solar Mamas is among its most successful programs and has brought solar-based electrical systems to 96 countries providing power to over 650,000 people. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

Guerra met Sanjit Roy in 2013 when he arrived on a tip-off that Cachimbo may be a candidate for Solar Mamas. Roy founded Barefoor College, a center providing educational and vocational training for the rural poor over four decades ago. Solar Mamas is among its most successful programs and has brought solar-based electrical systems to 96 countries providing power to over 650,000 people. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2018 02:22 PM IST
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The women spent six months training in India. Returning home in October 2014, they installed more than 60 solar kits provided by Enel SpA, which operates wind turbines nearby generating power for the mainland. Two other Mexican communities now have Solar Mamas after Cachimbo. Four Comcaac women from Sonora State were trained in India last year, after another group from the Yucatan peninsula. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

The women spent six months training in India. Returning home in October 2014, they installed more than 60 solar kits provided by Enel SpA, which operates wind turbines nearby generating power for the mainland. Two other Mexican communities now have Solar Mamas after Cachimbo. Four Comcaac women from Sonora State were trained in India last year, after another group from the Yucatan peninsula. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2018 02:22 PM IST
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Guerra didn’t know anything about electricity before joining the Barefoot College program. Roy told the Cachimbo women that if men were given the opportunity, they were likely to leave town once back. Women’s roots in the rural community made them better candidates and ensured they would come back, build a local grid and stay on to look after it. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

Guerra didn’t know anything about electricity before joining the Barefoot College program. Roy told the Cachimbo women that if men were given the opportunity, they were likely to leave town once back. Women’s roots in the rural community made them better candidates and ensured they would come back, build a local grid and stay on to look after it. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2018 02:22 PM IST
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While most Mexicans have electricity, many of the country’s less-populated areas aren’t connected to the grid, and extending wires to remote locations is very expensive. The government’s overhauled energy policy in 2013 encourages private investment in the industry and is targeting standalone systems like wind and solar for almost 2 million people living without electricity. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

While most Mexicans have electricity, many of the country’s less-populated areas aren’t connected to the grid, and extending wires to remote locations is very expensive. The government’s overhauled energy policy in 2013 encourages private investment in the industry and is targeting standalone systems like wind and solar for almost 2 million people living without electricity. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2018 02:22 PM IST
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Guerra still gets a small stipend by Barefoot College when she makes repairs to the local solar units. Her training also came in good use illuminating the lives of earthquake-hit Oaxacans recently when she loaded her boat with solar panels and made a three-hour trip to Juchitan, setting up lights and wiring, providing residents their only power in days. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

Guerra still gets a small stipend by Barefoot College when she makes repairs to the local solar units. Her training also came in good use illuminating the lives of earthquake-hit Oaxacans recently when she loaded her boat with solar panels and made a three-hour trip to Juchitan, setting up lights and wiring, providing residents their only power in days. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2018 02:22 PM IST
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A resident passes in front of a market destroyed in the September earthquake in Juchitan, Oaxaca State, Mexico. “At a time when people felt so insecure and scared, they were so happy to have some form of light,” Guerra said. “It gave me so much satisfaction to be able to provide it.” (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

A resident passes in front of a market destroyed in the September earthquake in Juchitan, Oaxaca State, Mexico. “At a time when people felt so insecure and scared, they were so happy to have some form of light,” Guerra said. “It gave me so much satisfaction to be able to provide it.” (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2018 02:22 PM IST
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Guerra remembers life in Cachimbo as difficult, ugly and always dark. Just walking around town one risked falling. With the solar kits people can go to bed later, children can do their homework at night and the women can do chores in the home while men continue their labours. “Everything is easier now that there is illumination,” Guerra said. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

Guerra remembers life in Cachimbo as difficult, ugly and always dark. Just walking around town one risked falling. With the solar kits people can go to bed later, children can do their homework at night and the women can do chores in the home while men continue their labours. “Everything is easier now that there is illumination,” Guerra said. (Yael Martinez / Bloomberg)

UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2018 02:22 PM IST

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