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Can an illiterate grandmother from Jordan become a solar engineer? Rafea says, “Yes!” She is a Bedouin woman who lives with her four daughters in one of Jordan’s poorest desert villages on the Iraqi border. Rafea is given a chance to travel to India to attend the Barefoot College, a unique program where illiterate grandmothers from around the world are trained in six months to be solar engineers. If Rafea succeeds, she will be able to electrify her village, train more engineers and provide for her daughters. Rafea gains skills and self-confidence, but her optimism and tenacity are not enough. Two months into the program, her husband threatens to divorce her and take her children away if she doesn’t return home immediately. Seeing no real choice in the matter, Rafea goes back to her village to try to convince her husband and other family members that her successes will benefit the entire community. Her real challenges have only just begun. Will she find support for her new venture? Will she be able to inspire the other women in the village to join her and change their lives? And most importantly, will she be able to rewire the traditional minds of the Bedouin community that stand in her way?
The 33rd San Francisco Jewish Film Festival takes place July 25 – Aug 12, 2013 in San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto, San Rafael, and Oakland. Information and Tickets: www.sfjff.org