Pati Ravarua, Ruta Ngatokorua and Teupoo Ford successfully completed a six month course through the Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India, finishing in March this year.
The course began in September last year, with Teupoo describing it as “intense”.
“We studied six days a week, for eight hours-plus, and the only day we had off each week was Sunday.
“By doing this we sacrificed our time with our families for the future benefit of the community.”
Pati said the experience was “eye-opening”.
“It is amazing just how under-developed some of these countries are (Palau, Marshall Islands, Micronesia) whose people came and studied alongside us.
“You forget just how fortunate we are here in the Cook Islands to have things like proper homes with walls, roofs and running water.”
The women also found the language barrier a key factor to overcome as they completed their course.
“We found the Indian tutors spoke so quickly it was hard at times to understand what they were saying. So we had to focus on what was written on the board in the classroom or in our textbooks to get by.”
Ford said the three were expecting to have the next phase of their plans in place after finishing their talks with Cook Islands National Council of Women president Vaine Wichman later this week.
“We are waiting on our equipment and then we can get down to what we can do for the community.”
The programme was fully funded by the Indian government, with the college given the go-ahead to implement the Women’s Barefoot Solar Engineering initiative in 2015.