A Powerful Thing - Community Cinema: Solar Mamas

Nov 5, 2012

WKAR's latest Community Cinema screening event featured an on-screen visit to Barefoot College in India, and in-person discussion with mid-Michigan women who are working to make a difference around the world.

(l-r) Jayne Schuiteman, Judy Martin, Tashmica Torok and Gail Catron.
Credit w.r. richards / WKAR-MSU

The evening on November 1 included a short preview of the Independent Lens film, "Solar Mamas," which follows the experience of a 32-year-old Jordanian mother of four traveling outside of her village for the first time ever to attend a life-changing, six-month job training program that will transform her into a solar engineer.

Following the preview, MSU Women's Resource Center director Jayne Schuiteman moderated a community discussion with panelists Judy Martin, Tashmica Torok and Gail Catron.

Judy Martin is president of Solar Circle, a non-profit organization that provides solar ovens for families in Tanzania. Tashmica Torok is with the Nayaka AIDS Orphans Project, which takes a unique, holistic human-rights approach to ending the cycle of poverty. Gail Catron is managing partner of Kirabo, a fair-trade retailer committed to social justice and supporting artists in developing countries.

Sandy Gebber
Credit WKAR

East Lansing resident Sandy Gebber was intrigued by the film's look at the Barefoot College program to educate women from rural areas as solar engineers. "I'm still a little overwhelmed with how they do it in such a short period of time, so I have to go back and watch the movie on Monday night."

"I think the women [on the panel] were incredible. What they've done in these countries and how they've raised money. It just blows my mind," said Gebber.

Panelist Tashmica Torok was pleased with the community interaction. "The questions were great. They were really insightful. Everyone is wondering how these cultures are going to face women becoming educated, becoming the breadwinners of the household. How are women going to be able to do that, facing the cultural issues of maybe not being allowed to do those things? There were a lot of questions about that. About environmental issues. It was good."

For Sandy Gebber it was her first time at a WKAR Community Cinema screening event, where the best from TV is connected with local experts and community discussion. "I just sort of accidentally read it online and said I want to go and I went. You've sold me to come more often. I think it's a wonderful endeavor that WKAR is doing. I think we have to spread the word."

Tashmica Torok, Nayaka AIDS Orphans Project
Credit WKAR

"I think that it's a powerful way for people to come together for causes that are important to them," agreed Torok. "WKAR is that anyway, isn't it? I mean, that's why we listen to them everyday on our way to work. You know we want to hear about issues that are important. We want to hear stories that are important.

"And so we have people here that want to be involved with global issues. They want to be involved with making the world a better place. And if you can connect them all and show them things that inspire them and connect them with communication that's going to teach them and educate them, then it's a powerful thing," said Torok.

On the Air and Online
"Solar Mamas" airs on WKAR-TV at 10 p.m. on Monday, November 5. The program can viewed online at video.wkar.org beginning after the broadcast.