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 In Field Updates, Stories

With only one week left before departure, we had hoped that we’d be packing up all our gear by now. We are woefully behind schedule. Because a number of items in the solar suitcase are custom made for our medical missions, this project requires the efforts coordination of a great many people and organizations. If any one part is held up, it has a ripple effect on other parts of the solar suitcase. High efficiency lights have been specially designed for the Liberian clinics, plugs for the 60 lamp cords we are bringing are individually fabricated…even the solar panels and mounting structures for the corrugated tin roofs in Liberia are being customized for this project! Hal Aronson and Brent Moellenberg have been the backbone of this project. They have both thrown themselves into the redesign and engineering of the Liberian solar suitcase, incorporating the feedback we obtained from our suitcases places in Africa and Haiti. The strain on our core team has been high, and we are so thankful for the weekend influx of highly skilled and dedicated volunteers who have literally kept us afloat. Each day we lead scientists, electrical and mechanical engineers, craftsmen and technicians to our barely recognizable backyard and pair them with soldering irons, heat shrinking tubing, galvanized steel plates, and 12V DC plugs and fuses. Then the fun begins. The piles of assembled lights, solar extension cords, and metal mounting structures are finally rising, and soon we’ll be doing the final assembly of the 20 solar suitcases, and packing them into cardboard boxes that will join us on our journey. Behind the scenes are the graphic artists helping us with user-friendly manuals and training materials, the volunteers helping us keep track of inventory and thinking through how to keep track of the 15-plus boxes we’ll be taking with us on the plane. It truly takes a village…

The photo shows Greg Holmes, software project director; Hal Aronson, co-founder and Technical Director of WE CARE; Mathias Craig, founder of BlueEnergy Group; and Christian Casillas, PhD candidate at UC Berkeley.