2 Aeta grandmas train on solar power engineering

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MANILA, Nov. 10, 2014 — Two Aeta grandmothers from a Catholic ethnic community in Central Luzon are undergoing a 6-month training on solar power engineering in a school in India for indigenous people.

Sharon Flores and Evelyn Clemente from Subic, Zambales are currently preparing to become solar power engineers at the Barefoot College in Rajasthan, said Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo, Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission, Inc. (FOLPMI).

Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo, nun-surgeon, founder and president of Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission, Inc. (FOLPMI) (Photo: Oliver Samson)

They are studying the assembly, maintenance, and repair of solar units, together with about 50 women from “poor and powerless” communities across the globe, said Japhet E. Miano Kariuki, Senior Consultant of OLLI Consulting Group, Inc., a project collaborator.

‘Solar energy experts’

The participants to the 6-month training have not received any formal education since birth, he said. But the education they will obtain at the Barefoot College will make them specialists in solar power engineering.

After graduating from the training in March next year, Flores and Clemente will be capable to help provide their tribal community with electricity with the sun as the source, Kariuki said.

Upon installation of the solar equipment, the ethnic village will need not go through the power rate increases imposed on residents in Metro Manila and other parts of the country, he said.

The tribe will only need to replace their solar cell battery every five years or so.

Electricity for 100 homes

According to Kariuki, the program is tapping companies to raise the Php 2.6 million needed to acquire solar equipment good for the 100 houses in the Aeta community.

The Aeta Resettlement and Rehabilitation in sitio Gala, barangay Aningway Sacatihan, in Subic currently has over 130 families, Maamo said.

Flores and Clemente are residents of the resettlement, where the Aetas formerly living on the foot of Mt. Pinatubo were relocated after its eruption in 1991, she said.

The resettlement is being supervised by FOLMPI, which aims to promote total human development among the Aetas, Maamo said.

To achieve this,the foundation built a school for kindergarten, primary and secondary students in the resettlement area in 2004 in partnership with the Department of Education.

Diwata, Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association, and Land Rover Club of the Philippines also worked together to send Flores and Clemente to the Barefoot College. (Oliver Samson).

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