Dr. Laura Stachel and Hal Aronson, co-founders of We Care Solar, talked about the story behind their invention of Solar Suitcase. Dr. Stachel gave the background of enormous challenges that women experience in delivering a healthy baby, often in the absence of light, in the developing world. In many parts of Africa for instance, many women try to give birth at home. Often after experiencing difficulty they try to collect money to bring her to the hospital. Many hospitals in rural areas have extremely limited electricity. A staggering 358,000 women died last year, in childbirth. In Africa, in countries like Sierra Leon, 1 in 8 women die in childbirth due to preventable conditions like hemorrhage, infection, obstructed labor, and eclampsia. Many of these women are poor, are likely to have received little prenatal care and they end up in hospitals that are not well equipped, with meager electricity and water supplies.
During her visits, Dr. Stachel observed that many of the preventable problems occur due to lack of reliable electricity. Women with obstetrical complications were unable to obtain life-saving care, despite the availability of trained medical personnel, frequently because they were not able to use light and electricity-dependent equipment. She and her husband, Hal Aronson, found a non-profit, We Care Solar and developed a portable solar electric system called the Solar Suitcase to address this challenge. Anyone traveling to a region with lack of electricity, can carry it with them and set it up in a matter of hours.
Hal Aronson shared the simple technology of Solar Suitcase. While many large solar systems often cost up to $200,000 to install and need regular maintenance, the Solar Suitcase concept is guided by principles of affordability, cost-effectiveness, portability, light weight, safety, ruggedness, and efficiency. This suitcase only gives 40 watts of power but if one can imagine sipping power rather than guzzling it, this is extremely effective. Included in the suitcase are regular instruments that can be powered effectively with the suitcase like Fetal Doppler, Head Lamps, Battery, and Battery Charger. This ready to go system can be installed within couple of hours and requires little maintenance, and is portable. It is safe to use with full overcurrent protection, is scalable, pre-wired, modular, expandable, and affordable.
Currently Stachel and Aronson are studying the multitude of positive impacts of Solar Suitcase that go beyond saving lives. Both the women and their doctors experience a feeling of greater calm and safety with the lights on! Requests for their product are streaming in from many parts of the world and Stachel and Aronson are looking for collaborations and partners, in this venture. Among other things, they are looking for similarly affordable and efficient infant warmer for premature infants. In this day and age, no woman should be deprived of the most basic care during the most natural of human behaviors; child birth! We Care Solar has committed to changing the staggering statistics of child birth deaths.