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Rafea: Solar Mama
A strong-minded Bedouin woman struggles against tradition and society as she seeks to become Jordan's first Solar Engineer.
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Rafea: Solar Mama

Filmmaker info pending
Running Time
76 minutes

Rafea: Solar Mama

Rafea is a Bedouin woman who lives with her four daughters in one of Jordan’s poorest desert villages on the Iraq border.She is given a chance to travel to India to attend the Barefoot College, where illiterate mothers and grandmothers from around the world are trained in 6 months to be solar engineers. If Rafea succeeds, she will be able to electrify her village, train more engineers, and provide for her daughters.Even when she returns as the first female solar engineer in the country, her real challenge will have just begun.Will she find support for her new venture? Will she be able to inspire the other women in the village to join her and change their lives? And most importantly, will she be able to re-wire the traditional minds of some of the members of her Bedouin community that stand in her way?

Filmmaker Notes:

Wherever we come from, at one point in our lives, we have all been given a challenge that we doubted we were capable of. This film tells a very human story of struggle and success against all odds.Our film is about one woman’s journey away from her village for very the first time – to fly to India – to get an education in solar engineering. As two Arab/ American directors, we are well aware that challenges exist for women across the world— but with very different dimensions.  By filming Rafea’s very human and intimate journey to towards a new life, we have sought to make her struggle accessible to men and women worldwide. It is only by seeing the possibility of change that we believe that people on the ground can begin to imagine and be inspired to act.  If a woman with a few years of schooling who has never left her village is able to learn solar engineering in a matter of months, what is impossible in the world?  We do not believe that a film alone can change societies and cultural taboos … but the people that watch them can.  Programs like The Barefoot College, and women like Rafea who dare to make a difference, have started a domino effect of swift technological and cultural progress in rural areas of the world that few knew existed. These women don’t just learn, they will one day each teach another group of women – and the process of learning, empowering, illuminating, and inspiring will spread exponentially. Few know of the Barefoot College, and its great impact on the remote comers of our world, but through Rafea’s un-imaginable tale, this film will spread a simple idea – that great change starts small but has the potential to be the lighting rod that creates a ripple effect. A recent screening of “Rafea” in Cairo left audience members inspired. Many called after the screening asking us for copies of the film to give to their mothers, and sisters and aunts and grandmothers – because Rafea’s experiences needed to be seen to be believed. Rafea is a woman who stood outside of the box to reach for her goals, she shook up the world around her and ultimately succeeded in winning the full support of those who initially resisted the most. But as Larel Thatcher Ulrich says “well-behaved women rarely make history,” and we hope to do whatever we can to make sure that Rafea’s story travels to the far corners of the world and emboldens and encourages women around the world for years to come.

Film details
Year(s) screened
  • 2013
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