‘Solar Mamas’ – A Film About Jordan’s Solar Energy Women

solar jordan rafea doha‘Rafea – Solar Mama’ marks a young mother’s battle to bring solar power to her village in the deserts of Jordan

Green films have been making a real splash across the region right now. From Eco Qatari folktales about drought to hard-hitting documentaries about trash in Turkey, environmentally-aware movies have been on the up. Now, an award-winning documentary has being made about an inspiring young woman from Jordan who travelled to India to learn to become a solar engineer. Back in 2011, we spoke to Rafea Abdul Hamid who is the focus of the film, so you may recall that she is in fact still struggling to establish solar power in her village. The Doha Tribeca Film Festival will be showcasing the documentary called ‘Rafea- Solar Mama’ over the next couple of days as part of its MENA premiere.

Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief, who are the directors, explain that they began this film project by following three women from across the globe on their journey to become solar engineers and chose to focus on Rafea. They were surprised at the real obstacles that she faced as well as the intervention of her husband which forced her to return to Jordan half way through her training. Luckily Rafea was able to return and complete her training as a solar engineer although her new found confidence and skills still makes the elders of her village uneasy.

“We’ve been taught about solar energy and solar panels and how to generate light,” explained Rafi’a Abdul Hamid to me over a year ago. “Hopefully when we return we will be able to teach others and use everything we’ve learnt here in India to improve our village.” That, however, has been a bit more complicated. Back in March 2012, Raouf Dabbas, Senior Advisor at the Ministry of Environment in Jordan informed me that the solar project was still awaiting donor assistance. A limited amount of solar panels had been successfully assembled by the women in three homes in the village but more substantial support was needed.

According to the Jordan Times, renewable energy currently contributes less than 1 per cent of Jordan’s energy mix. And yet the Kingdom has significant amounts of untapped wind and solar energy, with wind speeds as high as 7.5 metres per second, up to 11.5 metres per second in hilly areas, and direct solar radiation equalling 5.5 kilowatt hours per square metre per day.

For more on eco films in the region see:

‘Rain’ and Qatari Folktales of Nature

Green Abu Dhabi Film Festival Raises Ecological Awareness

Help Make Palestinian Filmmaker’s Eco-Documentary A Reality

About Arwa Aburawa

Arwa is a Muslim freelance writer who is interested in everything climate change related and how Islam can inspire more people to care for their planet and take active steps to save it while we can. She is endlessly suspicious of all politicians and their ceaseless meetings, especially as they make normal people believe that they are not part of the solution when they are the ONLY solution. Her Indian auntie is her model eco-warrier, and when Arwa is not busy helping out in the neighborhood alleyway garden, swap shopping or attempting fusion vegetarian dishes- with mixed success, she’d like to add- she can be found sipping on foraged nettle tea. You can find all of Arwa’s published work on her freelance site, and check out her musing on her blog. You can contact her @arwa_journalist or via arwa (at) greenprophet.com

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