A Homecoming for Tepu’s Solar Engineers

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In September 2015, Anna Nantawi and Ketoera Aparaka, two Trio indigenous women from Suriname’s remote rainforest interior, departed for Rajasthan, India to begin a six-month solar power installation training course to benefit their community.   The program is run by ACT’s NGO partner Barefoot College, whose students are exclusively rural women over the age of 35.

On March 15, 2016, the women finally returned to Suriname, where they were received by India’s ambassador to Suriname, Satendar Kumar, as well as the Director of Suriname’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Henry Mac Donald.  Two days later, in the nation’s capital, the women met a group of reporters to tell their story, describing their need to rely on body language, colors and symbols to understand the training sessions because of their lack of a lingua franca (the women know no English or Dutch) in the Indian context. 

The next day, they returned to their rainforest village of Tepu, where they were greeted by the entire community.  After several weeks of well-deserved rest, in May, Anna and Ketoera will initiate a solar electrification process in Tepu, which will eventually replace use of a generator that is currently powered by a limited quantity of government-provided oil.  ACT will furnish one of the Tepu village structures as a workshop location to enable the women to develop their activities.  While purchase and transportation of the solar panels is arranged, the women will train their fellow community members in their use.  ACT is now seeking matching funds from Suriname governmental agencies to support the installation work. 

Read a Dutch version of the article on the ACT-Suriname website here.

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