First some statistics from the WE CARE Solar website. "Maternal mortality worldwide accounts for 300,000 deaths a year; 99 percent of those occur in underdeveloped countries."
Dr. Laura Stachel, co-founder of WE CARE Solar, went to Nigeria in 2008 to study ways to lower maternal mortality. She discovered that lack of reliable electricity was a huge problem which impaired maternal and surgical care and often resulted in patient death. She contacted her husband and energy educator, Hal Aronson, who created a portable solution using solar panels to power LED lights, headlamps and walkie talkies. She brought this "solar suitcase" back to Nigeria where it was well received as having the potential to save lives.
Together, Dr. Satchel and her husband founded WE CARE Solar. Their mission, as explained on the website, is "seeking to improve maternal health care delivery and thereby reduce the number of women who die in childbirth or pregnancy in the developing world."
To date, "approximately 300 Solar Suitcases have been assembled and sent to 25 countries around the world." You can go to this interactive map to see how many suitcases are in each country and what the impact of having them has been.
Dr. Satchel was recently celebrated as a CNN Hero for her work bringing solar suitcases to clinics around the world. You can read the article on CNN and watch a video about the project here. For more photos and videos visit their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @wecaresolar - let there be light!