Feel Good Friday: We Care Solar and One Million Lights

April 6, 2012.

The team at Reach And Teach LOVES the song “This Little Light of Mine” (yeah, we know it is a little corny for some, but we still love it). For Feel Good Friday we wanted to shine a little light on two organizations that are spreading peace through light. Reach And Teach has been watching the progress of two incredible organizations for the last few years as part of our work with Collaborate for Africa, a collaborative launched by our friend and mentor Jeff Chow.

Simple concept… In places that lack electricity there is often a lot of sunshine during the day. Ample electricity could be generated using the power of the sun, but how do you tap into that energy in an affordable way that makes sense for a single home, a hospital, or a community? On this Feel Good Friday we’d like to lift up the stories of two organizations, We Care Solar, and One Million Lights, people who saw critical needs, came up with great ideas, and brought them to life.

And in addition to shining a little light… for this entire weekend we’ll spread a little love to these two organizations by donating 10% of proceeds from our sales to them!

We Care Solar

Imagine what a little electricity could do for a place that has none. Now imagine that it could be provided to that place with a suitcase! Here’s their creation story from their web site: Childbirth in Darkness

Co-founder Dr. Laura Stachel went to Northern Nigeria in 2008 to study ways to lower maternal mortality in state hositals. She witnessed deplorable conditions in state facilities including sporadic electricity that impaired maternity and surgical care. Without a reliable source of electricity, nighttime deliveries were attended in near darkness, cesarean sections were cancelled or conducted by flashlight, and critically ill patients waited hours or days for life-saving procedures. The outcomes were often tragic.

Laura wrote to her husband, Hal Aronson, a solar energy educator back in Berkeley, California. Together, Laura and Hal co-founded WE CARE Solar to improve maternal health outcomes in regions without reliable electricity. Hal designed an off-grid solar electric system for the hospital Laura was studying, targeting the maternity ward, labor room, laboratory and operating theatre.

A Portable Solution

Hal created a suitcase-sized prototype of the hospital solar electric system so Laura could show Nigerian hospital workers the LED lights, headlamps and walkie-talkies planned for deployment. When Laura returned to Nigeria toting the “solar suitcase,” her Nigerian colleagues immediately grasped its significance and began using this kit to charge headlamps and walkie-talkies while they awaited the larger solar installation. In addition, hospital employees introduced Laura to clinicians in outlying health facilities who begged her to bring solar lighting to their own clinics, too.

Momentum Grows

WE CARE initially assembled Solar Suitcases for midwives in northern Nigerian maternal health clinics. As word of our innovative power solution spread, we received requests from clinics and health workers around the world, including medical relief teams in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. We first relied on students and volunteers to help us assemble and deliver Solar Suitcases. As demand increased, we realized we needed formal mechanisms to reach scale. The Blum Center for Developing Economies and The MacArthur Foundation supported our technology research, our educational programs, and our field studies in Northern Nigeria. World Health Organization invited us to partner with the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research in bringing 20 Solar Suitcases to primary health care clinics in Liberia. Together, these projects are helping us to improve our suitcase design and gain important feedback about the power of our Solar Suitcases to transform health systems. Donations from individuals and family foundations support our Solar Suitcase deployments and capacity-building initiatives.

Solar Suitcase’ Sheds Light on Darkened Delivery Rooms – video:

Watch Solar Suitcase’ Sheds Light on Darkened Delivery Rooms on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

One Million Lights

In too many places across the world people work all day and then when they go home at night they are plunged into darkness because they have no electricity. What would one bright light in a home do for a family living that way? Think of all the things you do each evening after darkness falls, and imagine how much less you could do if you had to live in darkness. You couldn’t read, do homework, knit, play a game, repair things… The list goes on. But how can you get a bright light into a home without electricity? One Million Lights had the creative answer and this is another amazing organization that we’ve followed through our Collaborate for Africa connection. On this Feel Good Friday we wanted to share their story with you. Here’s their story from their web site:

One Million Lights’ mission is to improve the daily lives of children and adults by providing clean and healthy lighting. Our goal is to distribute one million (1,000,000) solar lights to replace dangerous and polluting kerosene lamps.

We provide clean, safe, affordable solar lighting to rural communities around the world through our international distribution programs, made possible by partnerships and donations. These solar lights enable children to study at night and adults to extend their workday, all while eliminating carbon emissions, improving household health, and greatly increasing income savings.

One Million Lights also works with local schools to increase awareness of global issues.

Check out this YouTube of one story from One Million Lights.



One of the unique things about One Million Lights is their Ambassador program. This is an amazing way young and old alike can spread light to corners of the world that are in darkness. Here’s how One Million Lights explains their programs (from their web site):

One Million Lights is focused on distributing solar lights to individuals in the developing world to improve education, health, and the environment.

We believe that light is as fundamental as food, water, and shelter.

With our Program, you now have an opportunity to change the lives of children and adults living without electricity.

Through our donor-meets-recipients model, One Million Lights has revolutionized development work, bringing you an opportunity to be on the ground in a developing region. Our Ambassadors can personally hand individuals the gift of rechargeable, environmentally friendly, solar lights to improve their living conditions and reduce the use of harmful lighting alternatives.

One Million Lights will match 15% of solar lights donated by our Global Ambassadors’ fundraising efforts. Your work will increase distributions and transform the lives of a rural community overnight.

Become a Global Ambassador today and light your world!

Check out a short presentation about the Global Ambassador Program. Please share with others who may also be interested!

Boy with BoGo lightFor more information on the Global Ambassador Program please contact:
Sadaf Minapara, GA Program Coordinator

Read about previous Global Ambassadors’ trips and apply to be a Global Ambassador yourself!

Shine a Little Light Right Now!

For this entire weekend (April 6-8) we’ll donate 10% of all sales through the Reach And Teach web site to We Care Solar and One Million Lights. (Each will get 5%). We’ve got an amazing selection of books, music, films, crafts, posters, curriculum, and other products that help transform the world through teachable moments. Click any of the categories on the top or side navigation bars and see if you can find something special to shine a little light somewhere. 

If you’d like to donate directly to each of these organizations, that is wonderful! Click here to donate to We Care Solar or click here to donate to One Million Lights