Rural Women from Freestate Campus Travel to India to Become Solar Engineers

Today history is made. And we’re excited.

Philippolis, the little dusty town that you all know so much about (you know the one in the middle of nowhere, in the semi-desert Karoo of South Africa) has two emissaries who are going to Rajasthan in India to train in solar electrification and rainwater harvesting.

Ronica Parra and Hanna Derrison are women. They are rural. And neither of them have a formal education beyond high school. And yet, this morning they step onto a jet plane that will take them further from home than they have ever been to prove that women can lead a vision to provide rural areas with CLEANER and CHEAPER energy.


Right: Ronica Parra. Left: Hanna Derrison. Centre: Hanna and Ronica on their first ever flight from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg. That was practice for Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi to New Delhi!

We are so proud. Beyond proud. We have tears in our eyes as both women step into a new chapter of their lives. We cannot wait for their return, when they will not only start to take rural homes off the grid, but will also train more women to become solar champions.

This is the future of South Africa. A rural campus in a rural town, led by women, leading the way for better education and a better world.

Go team Philippolis!


Rural women from all over the world at a solar electrification class at Barefoot College’s Tilonia campus in Rajusthan, India. Photo courtesy of