Nazma Nigam. Solar Lighting Engineer.
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From the villagers I heard about a project providing work to illiterate women. When I came here I was scared because I never went to school. But people were I had to leave home early to come to work and traveling was difficult. My in-laws were not liking it as I gave not enough time to my children. After a while they agreed with the fact that I could stay on the campus with my children.
I started at Barefoot as a gardener but I needed more money to raise my kids. In the solar section they were looking for more people to help them with the village solar lighting systems I applied for that department and I started the training.
I followed the complete solar training. They explained me the colors of the circuit and after a while I understood the concept. First I had to make sockets. Than circuits for the lanterns and later chargers. Now I’m able to make and repair solar lanterns and fix regulators. They asked me to stay as I was doing very well and the work was increasing day by day.
Now I train people coming from different villages in India and from abroad. We explain them the meaning of sockets and watts and circuits and. At the end of the program 6 months program we conduct practical tests and exams.
As a gardener I used to get paid around 700 rupees (11€) and since I am in the solar department I get about 2500 rupees (50€) a month.
I always wanted to learn and become someone. Now I started to go to neighbouring villages and explain them the concepts of solar lighting. I help villagers to repair their systems. I arrived here as an uneducated woman. I was even rather old to join the solar department.
They never obliged me to follow a training but they give good reasons why one should study and get yourself educated.
I don’t know about their selection procedure, but I’m happy they picked me out. I feel very confident in this new job. I am excellent in working with electronics and I don’t want to go back to my previous job.
The people of my village are respecting me more than before. I installed systems in the temples and in the mosque of the village. For private houses the investment is too expensive. People are waiting for the government to give subsidies before they start to install systems in their houses.
We have many students and we split up tasks between the 4 solar teachers. Every teachers coaches her group from the start till the end of the program.
We have to teach the foreign students with colors and sign language. We often have problems in the beginning of the course. They don’t get what we are trying to tell them but slowly slowly they start understanding some hindi words.
When they understand finally the function of the colors, we teach them with numbers. As all circuits have printed numbers and the students have the tablelist which indicates the basis of the circuit and the flow of electricity. That’s how we teach them about the function of resistance, and which circuit means what.
The foreign students don’t get an introduction in electronics beforehand in their country. They start entire training here and we train them for 6 months. In case they still get confused -because not all students are equally intelligent- the college sends some people from here to give them a supplementary training when they are back home.
When I arrived here I was not aware of solar energy but now I’m really interested in it. I understand the importance of the natural resources, and what are the benefits of working with alternative energies. If solar energy would not be used we would get into problems with nature. Spreading awareness about these ecological issues is certainly an important part of our training. Rajasthan is a very dry area and we have to do what we can to help nature.
We also started to plant neem trees and other plants that can survive on little water but give us greenery anyway.