The film was also one of the most popular among the public, taking 6th place among the Top 20 films nominated for the Audience Award. It participated in the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary and was one of the features in the ‘Why Poverty?’ program.

Rafea: Solar Mamas directed by Mona Eldaief and Jehane Noujaim won the Oxfam Novib Award at IDFA last November. The film was also one of the most popular among the public, taking 6th place among the Top 20 films nominated for the Audience Award. It participated in the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary and was one of the features in the ‘Why Poverty?’ program.

This is the story of Rafea, a Bedouin woman who lives in a small village in Jordan. She is the mother of four children, unable to read or write, and the second wife of a husband on whom she depends financially. But she has been given a once in a lifetime opportunity and she takes it immediately. When one of the two women from her community withdraws from going to the Barefoot College in India, Rafea volunteers to replace her. She packs her things and leaves the next day.

 The Barefoot College trains illiterate women from different continents to become solar engineers, electrify their villages and teach other people in their communities how to do this work. The thought behind teaching only women, grandmothers, to be more accurate, is that these women are unlikely to leave their communities for better opportunities in the cities. This way, the knowledge can be kept and spread within the community. Rafea seized the opportunity not only to give herself and her children a better life, but also to change her community, blighted by unemployment and a lack of perspective.

The two directors initially wanted to film four women from different places travelling to India to take part in the program. But one month into the program Rafea joined and took over the story. Her character and optimism make most of the film. In the months the camera follows her, we see her inner development, her eyes changing gradually from a hesitant mother of four with no perspective to a confident woman.

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