- We Share Solar
I met Isha Daramy-Kabia less than a week ago, but I instantly knew she would be a friend for life. She sparkled from the stage of the Global Women Leadership Network last Thursday as she declared “No woman should die in childbirth in Sierra Leone!” and announced that she would build her second maternity center in Sierra Leone by 2013.
Isha is a midwife. Born in Sierra Leone and trained in England, Isha is committed to improving maternity care in a country that claims one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Until very recently, 1 in 8 women of reproductive age risked dying from childbirth. Almost all births occur in villages, on dirt floors, without skilled care. Emergency care is often impossible to access – a combination of poverty, distance, and insufficient medical facilities create the perfect storm for pregnancy complications to lead to death.
Isha left a comfortable practice in England to develop a training program for traditional birth attendants in Sierra Leone. She shared her own knowledge while still honoring the indigenous techniques she observed that made medical sense. She taught the birth attendants to utilize all of their senses – to recognize when a woman was anemic, when to encourage a woman to push during the second stage of labor, or when transfer to a health facility was needed. The training program lasted months and ended with an oral exam, a certificate, and a joyful graduation. Isha next started the Friends of PCMH (Princess Christian Maternal Hospital), an organization to support the largest maternity hospital in Sierra Leone. She raised funds for better staffing, for better equipment, and soon for other hospitals. She went to markets with a bull-horn to advocate for skilled care during deliveries and to inform the public that maternal health care was now free. When a friend gave her money to buy a car for her personal use, she decided the money could be put to better use if she expanded the maternal and child health clinic she created in Port Loko. Her friend was upset that she hadn’t bought the car, but Isha said she believed something her father used to tell her, “Good comes from good.”
Isha’s clinic will serve women from dozens of villages. Women close to the clinic will come for prenatal care and deliveries. Those far away will move into the clinic in the last weeks of pregnancy to ensure timely access to obstetric care when labor begins. The clinic is beautiful, equipped with tiled floors, mechanical hospital beds, and obstetric supplies. However, the clinic could not yet open. There is no light.
I invited Isha to our Berkeley home before her return to Sierra Leone next week, and introduced her to Hal. He brought out a Solar Suitcase, and as the sun was setting, he turned on the LED lights. “Will this help you?” he asked.
“I’m dumb-founded,” she began. Her eyes filled with tears. “My problem is solved,” she continued, “Women die for lack of light. Midwives need to use their senses. They see, they observe, they feel. You cannot do anything in darkness…especially delivering a baby….This is a real life-saver.”
Isha heads back to Sierra Leone with an extra piece of luggage, packed with solar lights, headlamps, phone chargers and a fetal monitor. And in January, she will officially open the Magbil Mother and Child Health Center.
- The Power of Collaboration: Lighting Up Schools in Kenya
- Sharing Knowledge and Culture at the We Care Solar Regional Training
- Reflections from a Solar Ambassador
- We Care Solar is the first winner of the United Nation’s “Powering the Future We Want” award
- When Light Means Life…An interview with Dr. Bwire Chirangi
- When Solar Light Saves Lives by Robin Lim, CPM
- How a yellow suitcase saves mothers and babies
- We Share Solar Winter Training preps youth for Solar Suitcase installs in Warmer Climates
- A day in the life of a Solar Ambassador…. by Merritt Eby Gates
- “Philippine Heroes of the Night” by Robin Lim and Laura Stachel
- Shining a Light on Healthcare Heroes
- Pedagogy of the Empowered – Notes from Solar Ambassador Merritt Eby Gates
- Princeton Day School Students Empower Distant Classrooms
- A New Light Shines on a Ugandan Maternal Health Center
- Shining a light on a Ugandan maternity center
- WHO Director-General lauds Solar Suitcase as “sunshine saving lives.”
- Notes from a Solar Ambassador – Merritt Gates
- Between Life and Death
- We Share Solar Launches at the Tech!
- We Share Solar at the Tech Museum of Innovation
- We Care Solar launches Successful Ambassador Program
- Integrated Solar Suitcase Wins the Gates/USAID ‘Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge’ Award
- UN Secretary-General: Solar Suitcase ‘Valuable’
- Malawi: Moving from Candlelight to Electricity
- The Golden Thread
- Powering Healthcare
- Hope in Afghanistan
- Solar Energy International and WE CARE Solar Seek Solar Suitcase Ambassadors
- Isha’s Dream – Lighting up lives in Sierra Leone
- Birthday Reflections
- SAFE in Uganda with the Solar Suitcase
- Power to Save Lives
- A Bright Light in Sierra Leone
- A World of Thanks
- The Color of Life
- Changing Lives….One Suitcase at a Time
- Passing the Baton
- Special Deliveries
- ABC News: Let There Be Light – World News’ Person of the Week
- ABC News Million Moms Challenge – Opinion: Let there be light
- ABC News Million Moms Challenge – Reporter’s Notebook: Light in Liberia
- WE CARE Solar wins the 2011 Tech Awards!
- Bringing Light and Improved Care to Somalia
- WE CARE Solar honored as 2011 Tech Award Laureate
- WE CARE Solar Suitcase headed to Somalia, Sudan, and India
- Collaborating “Outside of the Box”
- Stories from the Night
- Safe Deliveries – New Research Project in Nigeria
- Liberia – the power of light
- Father’s Day, WE CARE Solar Style