The Gambia has over 60 remote, rural government health clinics to meet the needs of their farming communities. While these clinics have nurses and midwifes, most clinics have no reliable electricity. At night, the clinic staff are almost helpless. With no lights, no way to charge a cell phone and call for transport, no way to check on a laboring mothers progress, there is often little the nurses can do for their patients in an emergency.
That’s why Power Up Gambia is working with the Gambia Ministry of Health and We Care Solar to place small solar power kits in these clinics. Durable, portable, inexpensive, easy to install and maintenance free, these Solar Suitcases allow the clinic staff to have bright lights at night, cell phone charging during the day, and a fetal heart monitor to keep an eye on the health of babies during deliveries. With solar power, the staff is no longer helpless in the face of nighttime emergencies.
Right now, we have teamed up with private individuals, Rotary clubs, civic groups, churches and student groups to install 26 Solar Suitcases in clinics around The Gambia. But that is about to change in a big way. Now, We Care Solar has donated 40 solar suitcases- $88,000 worth of equipment! That’s enough materials to Power Up every single unlit public clinic in The Gambia.
The suitcases have been shipped: But we need your help to deploy and install them them across the nation. We need to raise $4,000 by October 10th if we want to bring light, healthcare, and hope to tens of thousands of Gambians for the first time ever.
The We Care Solar Suitcase was specifically chosen for its simplicity and durability. The user friendly units come with easy instructions and require no maintenance beyond the occasional cleaning of panels. Their simple composition of high quality parts guarantees standardized off-grid solar and battery power capable of standing up to the heavy demands of the clinics.
Why standardized? Our experience has shown us that many solar power systems that are donated to rural Africa fail over time because it can be difficult and expensive to get replacement parts. By having a standard design, Power Up Gambia can keep spare parts on hand and train Gambian technicians to do most of the necessary repairs.
So you can imagine how pleased we were when the Ministry of Health won a grant from We Care Solar and UNDESA to participate in We Care Solar’s first Regional Solar Suitcase Training in Accra, Ghana. The Ministry sent Gambian solar technician Saikou Gibba, who was joined by representatives from Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria. The training included classroom instruction, followed by hands-on activities and then practice installations in local health centers.
The implications of widespread access to Solar Suitcases is monumental. Midwives will be able to see when delivering babies at night. Doctors and nurses will be able to monitor fetuses in utero. When an emergency referral to a hospital is needed, the nurses have the ability to call for help. For clinics that have never had access to electricity, these suitcases are a total game changer– and literal life saver.