In Mexico, hit by two violent earthquakes in September, the “solar grandmother” Norma Guerra Ramos managed to bring back power to affected areas, thanks to Enel Green Power’s programme in collaboration with Barefoot College
“I woke up with a start. I tried to switch on the light but it was completely dark and I couldn’t open the door. I never could have imagined such a thing”. Norma Guerra Ramos felt the earth shake just before midnight, when a 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico, claiming 96 victims. Around two weeks later, on September 19th, another 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the country causing more than 320 victims.
“My thinking was that the earthquake could become a tsunami. Let’s go, let’s go... I kept saying to my husband. I heard a strong wind in the distance that was getting closer. At that moment, I thought only of running”
For her, the mere act of switching on a light is not so simple. For over 50 years, her house had no form of electrical lighting, forcing her to use a torch for all her daily activities. Norma has finally had her hands free for just a few years, thanks to the photovoltaic panels that she herself installed in her house and in many others in the area.
This incredible woman is one of the many “solar grandmothers” who, in 2013, participated in the training programme organised by Enel Green Power in collaboration with the Indian NGO Barefoot College, committed to bringing energy to the remotest areas of the world. She flew to India for the training and then came back to the small town of Cachimbo to build and install 48 solar kits, making it possible to light the homes of nearly 300 people.
Once she was safe, surrounded by the destruction caused by the earthquake, Norma did not dismay and got right to work to help the many people left without power in several towns in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, the most affected by the quake.
After the first emergency following the violent quake had passed, Norma didn’t think twice: she took some solar lamps she still had at home and brought them to the nearby towns to explain their function and use. She went to 7 Mexican towns in total (4 in the state of Oaxaca and 3 in Chiapas) where she taught the residents to build and install the solar kits and bring power back.
“The greatest satisfaction was bringing back the light”, said Norma. “I connected a dead light bulb to the solar system and it came on. I did the same thing with another and they were all surprised. It’s easy, I said, and I told them how to do it”.
Norma’s work allowed her to help hundreds of people and to bring back hope to these Mexican towns, returning light to many households and enabling them to take a big step forward in their return to normality.
“It’s a noble project and I thank Enel Green Power, Barefoot College and everyone that participated”, concluded Norma. “It’s only because of them that I’m here doing all this today”.
Her story confirms the importance EGP and Barefoot College’s project dedicated to Latin American women of all ages, some already grandmothers, who go to India to learn how to build and install solar kits able to power four lamps, charge a mobile phone and a portable solar lantern. A chance to learn that leads to profound changes not only in their personal lives, but in the whole community. A benefit that spreads from the single experience to the community, involving a growing number of people.