Solar Mamas

Trailer (2:02)
Clip ( 3:15)

About the Film

Rafea smiles next to two of her young children outside their rural home. The students of Barefoot College working in the classroom. Rafea and a group of Kenyan women stand outside the Barefoot College.

Rafea is 30 years old with four children and a husband who is eager to take a third wife. She is a Bedouin woman living in a small Jordanian village close to the desert. With encouragement from the country's Ministry of Environment, she leaves her village for the first time to go to the Barefoot College in India to train to become a solar-energy engineer.

The Barefoot College in India was founded by Bunker Roy to provide knowledge and training to the rural poor to empower them to make their communities self-reliant and sustainable. The solar course at Barefoot College has women from Kenya, Burkina Faso, Columbia, and Guatemala.

And now Rafea from Jordan. She is the first Jordanian woman ever to attend such a program, and she dreams of returning to bring much-needed income and talents to support her family and village.

But two months into the program, Rafea’s husband insists that she return home or he will divorce her and take her children. With no real choice in the matter, Rafea goes back to her village and sets out to persuade her husband and other family members that her studies in India benefit everyone.

In her journey away from home, back, and then away once more, Rafea goes through a profound transformation, returning as an educated woman with the skills to earn an income and achieve for her community what others could not.

The Filmmakers

Filmmaker Mona Eldaief

Mona Eldaief works in documentary film and television around the world. Her film credits include Control Room, Startup.Com, A Wedding in Ramallah, and Her Name Is Zelda. She has produced work for Frontline World, Discovery Channel, ABC News, and MTV News and Docs. Mona also implemented a video diary exchange program between Israelis and Palestinians, which allowed young people in Israel and the West Bank to create video diaries that were then shared to initiate an ongoing dialogue about the conflict.

Filmmaker Jahane Noujaim looks past her camera’s viewfinder.

Jahane Noujaim was raised in Cairo and began her career as a photographer. Following a B.A. in Film and Philosophy at Harvard, she directed Mokattam (1998). She went on to produce and direct Startup.com (2001) and Control Room (2004), and was was co-director on Shayfeen.com: We Are Watching You. Noujaim has also worked as a cinematographer on Born Rich (2003), Only the Strong Survive (2002), and Down from the Mountain (2002), and as executive producer on Encounter Point (2006) and Budrus (2011).