Four Indigenous girls introduced solar energy in their hometown, following a scholarship provided by the Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Relations to study solar engineering in India.
In 2016, Martina Caballero, Lucia Montezuma, Ovidia Caballero and Agripina Montezuma traveled to Rajasthan, India to study at the Barefoot University, an institution that works to support remote villages, providing individuals with the tools and the knowledge to improve the state of their community.
The four students were enrolled in the university’s Solar Engineer Plan, participating in the Solar Lighting program for six months.
On their return home to Punta Burica, a rural town in southern Costa Rica, the women put their education to use, building solar powered panels on roofs to provide electricity in the area.
The Barefoot University breaks the social caste system, beginning in the poorest parts of India and providing women of all ages not only with their first education but also the power to change the future for generations to come. The Guardian reports that 44 percent of rural Indian households are without electricity while 72 percent of India’s population resides in these same remote areas.
"If you ask any solar engineer in the world, 'Can anyone make this in a village?' they say it's technically impossible. And if I say a grandmother is making it who is illiterate, he can't believe it, it's beyond his comprehension," says Sanjit “Bunker” Roy, founder of the Barefoot College.
"We have shown that solar-electrified villages can be technically and financially self-sufficient," Roy said, explaining that the school focuses on solar energy to reduce pollution. So far the university states it has trained more than 150 grandmothers from 28 countries and provided electricity to 10,000 houses.
The University provides education to women from all over the world, including South America, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. According to the United Nations, 1.5 billion people still live without electricity.
"The Barefoot College is supposed to be a sparking off process. People are adopting it and owning it, which is really the story behind the college," concluded Roy.