MentorshipYoung Changemakers Program

Innovation for Good – Learning from the barefoot grandmamas

By January 30, 2015 No Comments

We kicked off our 2015 mentoring sessions with a screening of the documentary ‘No problem! 6 months with the barefoot grandmamas’, courtesy of the Women and Girls Lead Global Project – Kenya

The film follows rural women from all over the world, and in particular Africa, being trained as solar engineers. The 2011 batch of African women, from Tanzania, Zanzibar, South Sudan, Malawi, and Liberia, leave behind their families for the first time in their lives. They live and learn together for six months without knowing each other’s languages, but sharing a unifying goal – to become solar engineers and bring electricity to their villages for the first time in history. 

Screening this film was motivated by Akili Dada’s commitment to cultivate leadership abilities in girls by encouraging them to engage in community service as well as challenging them to think outside the box on how they can be leaders in their own right and in their own spaces. 

4 lightbulb sparked in our girls after the screening

  1. There is a great deal of good that can be harnessed and realized when women work together in spite of the perceived obstacles in their paths.  Our girls and mentors saw older women coming together across traditional, ethnic and national divisions to increase their knowledge about a technical area to become active citizens, economic engines, and vital agents for social change in their communities.
  2. Learning is about sacrifice and moving away from your comfort zone: The girls were particularly impressed and inspired by how much the grandmothers sacrificed – their families, their farms and their time, because of their determination to become solar engineers. 
  3. To be a leader one should not be afraid of breaking stereotypes and being different: If the grandmothers could learn to be solar engineers in 6 months, a profession that takes people 7 years to master, then they (girls) too can become whatever they determine to be. The girls were encouraged not to live within the limitations that others build around them, but instead aspire to be great change makers in their societies. Indeed one of our scholars and club member Claris, challenged her colleagues to be mentors to other girls even at their young age and not wait to be adults to begin making an impact.
  4. My problem is your problem, your problem is my problem: The girls were also inspired to see themselves as solutions to challenges and as contributors to decision making in their communities. Inspired by Fatima, one of the grandmothers from Zanzibar whose desire was to bring light to rest of her village, the girls began thinking of ways they could engage with their communities by starting up projects to impact their communities . Fatima experienced the benefits of having lighting in her home and chose not to keep this to herself; she chose to transform her community. Our girls have the privilege of gaining knowledge from various sources and determined to share what they learn with others.