Rafea, Solar Mama

Rafea, Solar Mama is a documentary by Jehane Noujaim (The Square) and Mona Eldaief that screened at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York (June rafea-solar-mama13-23).

This documentary closely follows the heart-warming journey of Rafea, the first Jordanian Bedouin to attend the Barefoot College Program.  It is an honest portrayal of the struggles yet triumph of female empowerment, and it accurately highlights the cultural issues that today’s women face.

Rafea encounters a series of obstacles throughout the film; Her husband threatens to divorce her and take away her children and her community has little faith in her. Rafea intuitively knows that this was a unique chance to learn a new set of skills, but she needs her community’s support to thrive. images-1By persevering and demonstrating determination, she gains their trust and makes them understand the benefits that could be gained upon the completion of the program. With this new-found support, Rafea overcomes all the hardships and returns to her village as a transformed woman and a local hero.

3143605084The Barefoot College, founded by Bunker Roy, runs a program that selects eighty women from all over the world to mold them into solar engineers in just six months. This program aims to provide knowledge and training to the rural communities in order to make them self-reliant and sustainable, with the vision that these woman can ameliorate both their own lives as well as their communities.

IMG_4555During the Q&A session, Mona El Daeif explained the power of cinema and its positive effect on society. This is a step towards progress; one that could potentially change the way rural communities live. If we sponsor more people like Rafea, they would be able to return home bringing skills and a much-needed income to support their family and community.  In fact, this could work in refugee camps, in Syria now and in other countries that face similar problems – This could change the world.

photoAfter the screening, I introduced myself to Mona and squeezed her for about a minute. I admire the director for covering this subject and the unprecedented courage that these illiterate women have shown. While half the girls I know would throw a tantrum at a broken nail, women like Rafea are fighting real battles every day. Rafea, you ARE a hero and you have my utmost respect. I am in awe of your strength, what.a.woman!


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Watch the extended trailer HERE

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