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Berkeley Couple Creates Solar Suitcase for Women in Need

April 5, 2012

The PBS Newshour usually has one, sometimes two international/national research pieces per nightly hourlong program. Last night, journalist Fred de Sam Lazaro (great name, eh) was featured in a terrific report on a young humanitarian-style-entrepenour, Andrew Youn and his nonprofit farming organization, One Acre Fund (there’s a post with more info and a link on my blog).
On tonight’s show, for April 4, 2012, journalist/reporter, Spencer Michels brought another great story, this time on a new organization called ‘We Care Solar.’ Similar to ‘One Acre Fund,’ the organization was created to fill a dire need, in this case an incredible lack of basic electricity in the developing world’s health care providers. When Berkeley, California obstetrician, Dr. Laura Stachel hurt her back and could no longer deliver babies like she used to, she traveled to Nigeria to look into why their maternal deaths per childbirth were so high. She found a litany of things, but on the most basic level: was the absence of a stable, consistent source of energy, electricity. She asked her husband, Hal Aronson (and I noticed it, too — they don’t have the same last name — she’s a Berkeley-OBGYN, par for the course, lol), who is a teacher, to come up with something (replace ‘asked him’ with ‘demanded’ — just like a woman, sheeesh, lol. and she’s an obstetrician — moreover a ‘Berkeley-based-OBGYN,’ maiden name in tow — Godspeed Hal, you are one brave hombre, lol.). Back to the story, Hal is a self-taught solar energy connosseure (I mean c’mon he lives in Berkeley — it’s to be expected, eh — or the spirit of Ed Begley will haunt your backyard compost, allegedly. lol. Begley rules!), and came up with a simple, three-part solar-electric energy product: the solar panels, a battery, and the wiring to connect the two. After modifying the system over and over, he finally came up with a product that the wifey could take to Nigeria’s hospitals, clinics, and OBGYN’s in a suitcase. Three years and six models later they have what they call the solar suitcase, that costs about $1,500. There are currently 160 devices in 17 countries. Awesome story and couple, right!

I want to fill a need that helps the developing/underdeveloped (same thing, just two different ways to say it — a verb and an adjective, etc.) places on earth like the Stachel-Aronsons. Reminds me of the story of Joseph Kamkwamba, ‘The Boy that Harnessed the Wind.’

We Care Solar’s website
We Care Solar
PBS Newshour, 04-04-12, We Care Solar — Solar suitcase, etc. (Story by Spencer Michels)

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