One of the things we love about working in other countries is that it gives us an opportunity to train others to become competent with solar electricity. On this trip, in addition to training dozens of health workers to use and maintain the solar suitcase, we are expanding our team with new trainers and installers.
For health workers unfamiliar with solar amps and battery volts, we find ways to make these concepts accessible. We have created games to reinforce key concepts, such as the energy consumption of different devices. We use analogies to help clinicians understand when to charge their phones and laptops and when to conserve energy. Storing water in a bucket and consuming water when needed is a familiar concept in rural health clinics; these principles are easily translated to storing energy in a battery. We created picture-rich posters and manuals that reinforce how to read the charge controller and optimize solar suitcase performance.
In addition to working directly with health workers, we are also training a local team to continue our work in the future. On this trip, we are cultivating new trainers and installers. Martha Hussiana is a young Nigerian physiologist who works with eHealth Nigeria. She is fluent in Hausa, a real asset when it comes to training health workers less familiar with English. She has been helping me teach classes in rural health facilities, and will be follow the progress of each clinic as we conduct research on the function and utility of the solar suitcase in maternal health settings.
Idris Jibrin has been my long-time driver and has been helping me with the Solar Suitcase project since its infancy. His experience as a former auto-mechanic has come in handy, since cars and solar suitcases both use DC electricity. US Lead Engineer Brent Moellenberg and LBNL Staff Scientist Karina Garbesi are training Idris in proper installation techniques. Along with the other Nigerians working with us, Idris and Martha are soaking up everything they can during our non-stop deployments. Their enthusiasm and new skills will be instrumental in the long-term success of this program.