Operator - Yuni 2

Sumba, due to its remote location, has never been a priority for the Indonesian government. A few years ago, most of the villages in Sumba didn’t even have access to electricity, all activities had to stop when the night came. Once the island started developing, a huge obstacle appears, so officials had to pay attention to the energy needs of the local community.

Manggewar Elementary School

Manggewar Elementary School is located in Sambali Loku Village of Central Sumba, it is one of the 25 photovoltaic schools[1] participating in Hivos Southeast Asia’s TERANG (Investing in Renewable Energy for Rural, Remote Communities) Project – which is a partnership project between Hivos Consortium along with Yayasan Rumah Energi (YRE) and Village Infrastructure Angel (VIA) together with Millennium Challenge Account-Indonesia (MCA-I) Project[2]. Launched in 2015, TERANG Project aims to achieve universal electrification for remote and rural areas like Sumba, where the electrification ratio lags far behind national averages.

At least 50 people in this village including the principal and teachers have been trained to operate the school’s solar panel installations. An operator is appointed to be in charge of the installation right after the training.

The Only Sumbanese Woman Solar Panel Operator


A thirty-one-year-old teacher at Manggewar Elementary School, the one and only woman solar panel operator in Sumba, her name is Mrs. Yuni.

She is a bit doubtful to be appointed as photovoltaic school solar panel operator because she teaches Christian Religion class.

“I don’t have a background in engineering, but they trusted me to handle the (solar panel) installation here,” said Mrs. Yuni. “Despite their trust in me, I was still anxious about not knowing how to fix problems or damage to the installation.”

Mrs. Yuni has largely broken the stereotype among people in the village who think that women only know how to use kerosene lanterns and only the men who understand how to use modern lighting equipment or devices. Broken the stereotype also means that she is careful about what people think because there are indeed special challenges for a woman who becomes a solar panel operator.

“Customers often bring back their solar lanterns after 8 PM, which means I have to go home late. Actually I’m not afraid to be outside in the dark because it’s only 200 meters away from my house, but since people in this village have a prejudice that women who go outside alone during the night are “loose”, I won’t let people see me that way.”

Having a very modest salary which only around IDR 33,000 per month doesn’t stop Mrs. Yuni’s spirit to dedicate her life to teach and making a positive difference in the lives of other people – especially the children in Sumba.

“What makes me happy and satisfied is to know that the students have light so they can study and finish their homework their scores got improved and teachers have started to prepare teaching materials with computers, and exams are now typed and printed; to see how so much good improvements happened at Manggewar Elementary School,” she said.

Mrs. Yuni is no longer worried about her ability to operate a solar panel, even now she expects to get more technical training in order to expand her knowledge and increase her confidence. “Whatever the problem will be, I want to fix it by myself.”


[1] Photovoltaic (PV) School has 0.3 kW PV that will charge solar lanterns and hand phones. The school leases out or sells 6,000 lanterns. This activity aims to address these issues and increase access to lighting and electricity for charging cell phones to improve the livelihoods of 8,000 students and teachers.

[2] TERANG is a combination of two iconic programmes of Hivos, the Sumba Iconic Island initiative and the Indonesian Domestic Biogas Programme. TERANG project is a partnership between Hivos Consortium together with Yayasan Rumah Energi (YRE) and Village Infrastructure Angel (VIA) with Millennium Challenge Account – Indonesia (MCA-I) for the period of December 2015 until March 2018.