More sunshine in Vitalina’s life

The Solidarity Solar program has installed more than 300 solar panels in Alto da Cova da Moura, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Portugal. Vitalina Varela, the unforgettable star of a film named after herself, was one of the beneficiaries

She was part of the cleaning crew working on the set of Pedro Costa’s “Cavalo Dinheiro” when the Portuguese director realized she was a diamond in the rough. Vitalina Varela became the protagonist of his next film, titled after her own name and inspired by the life of this Cape Verdean woman who, in 2013, took a plane to Portugal after the death of her husband. Without the means to return, Vitalina ended up living in Alto da Cova da Moura, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Lisbon. The same neighborhood where EDP has recently brought solar power to 300 homes by installing self-consumption solar panels—and even threw in an energy-efficient refrigerators. 

Vitalina says she saw a paper on the floor when she got home and went to her neighbor to find out what it was. To his surprise, it was an EDP leaflet offering the installation of solar panels to people in the community who met certain conditions. Vitalina submitted the necessary papers and the rest happened very quickly. 

Proud of the new solar panels on her roof—the same roof that, just a few years ago, leaked whenever it rained—she now feels closer to her family, who live in a very remote area of Cape Verde and only have access to energy through solar panels. When the time comes to pose for the photo, you can sense her gratitude for the difference in quality of life that the new solar panels will bring. 

The star of “Vitalina Varela” has lived a very difficult life since arriving in Portugal, facing all kinds of hardships. She waited for almost forty years for her husband to return for her on the island of Santiago, in Cape Verde, and ended up coming to Portugal in the worst of circumstances, three days after her husband’s funeral. “I went through a lot of hardships,” she says, remembering the time she woke up to find the house flooded and the bed soaked through. 

Pedro Costa thought her life would make a good movie and hired her to tell the world her story. “Vitalina Varela” is a film about the women who stay behind when their husbands leave because of poverty. It premiered in 2019 at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland and earned its director the Golden Leopard—and Vitalina Varela the Silver Leopard for her performance. Since then, it has continued to collect international awards, becoming the most acclaimed Portuguese film of all time. 

Vitalina, who has since joined a stage production in Lisbon, is waiting for the opportunity to return to the big screen. “It was an incredible experience. I worked a lot, but everything I did was done with strength, courage, and love,” she says in her blend of Cape Verdean Creole and Portuguese. 

The Alto da Cova da Moura project is just one example of what Solidarity Solar aims to achieve. Created with the ambition of actively contributing to a just energy transition and improving the quality of life in the communities—especially those most in need—this program is already considering new initiatives in other areas of Portugal, Spain, and Brazil


Solidarity Solar

It is with the aim of expanding access to this energy that EDP created the Solar Solidário project, yet another social impact initiative by EDP Y.E.S. – You Empower Society. In partnership with several organizations, this project promotes the installation of self-consumption solar panels in needy communities in different countries where the group operates.
Ensuring access to clean and renewable energy in areas that do not have adequate electrical infrastructure is, in fact, the purpose behind the project, whose effects are reflected in the promotion of sustainability, social inclusion, improvement in the quality of life of residents and in local development.

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