The organization was founded in 2009 by Aronson and his wife, Dr. Laura Stachel. The two began an organic collaboration on the solar suitcase when Stachel was working in Northern Nigeria in 2008, studying ways to lower maternal mortality in state hospitals. There, she witnessed how sporadic electricity impaired maternity and surgical care. Without a reliable source of electricity, most medical procedures become dramatically more complicated and mortatility rates rise significantly.
The pair began tinkering with the idea of a solar suitcase – a durable, portable device that could provide steady electricity to clinics and maternity wards. Their early efforts were highly experimental but ultimately successful enough to attract the attention of mainstream media and supportive funders. Since the first developments, the suitcases have now been deployed in more than twenty countries.
The “We Care Solar Suitcase” powers overhead LED lighting, charges cell phones, and includes LED headlamps that come with their own rechargeable batteries. Everywhere the suitcases are deployed, patients and doctors enjoy dramatically different treatment possibilities and health outcomes.
The pair has also developed a companion educational program called We Share Solar, which provides youth with an opportunity to link science and technology with international humanitarian service. The program combines solar energy and engineering education with real-world applicability, while trained teachers cultivate students’ interests in STEM subjects and inspire them to meet an immediate need in the developing world.
We were fortunate enough to speak with Dr. Hal Aronson on our podcast Social Design Insights. Have a listen at the link above.