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We’re All In This Together

One of the most amazing things about being a part of WE CARE Solar is that it has brought together a wonderful array of people. Initially, WE CARE Solar consisted of a small group of graduate students and professors who believed that it was possible to use solar technology to enhance childbirth on the other side of the world. Next, it was friends and family members willing to purchase LED headlamps, light bulbs, batteries, walkie-talkies, and suitcases for people they’d never met, sharing the belief that these donations could make health care for women and infants a little bit better in Nigeria. Then it was the Nigerian midwives who showed their love and appreciation for the lighting and walkie-talkies, and who implored me to let the world know that “Yes, WE CARE, too.” By now WE CARE Solar has grown to include engineers, teachers, electricians, writers, business people, contractors…people who have shown their support in so many ways. While I was in Africa, my daughter and her best friend sold lemonade to raise money for a maternity headlamp. We received funds for an entire solar suitcase from a youth development organization in Washington. I was reminded of the magic of this project during a recent trip to Colorado. I had been invited to speak at Solar Energy International (SEI), located in Carbondale, Colorado. The class was entitled “Renewable Energy for the Developing World,” and was lead by one of my solar heroines, Laurie Stone. I presented slides of the Nigerian hospitals and clinics now receiving solar-powered lighting and two-way radios, and was delighted to receive many offers to volunteer from SEI students and staff. The family in Colorado that hosted my family was similarly generous in their offer to promote WE CARE Solar to their community. But the biggest surprise occurred in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, where a delightful retired stockbroker engaged me in a casual conversation while we both soaked in a warm pool. He was enchanted by my tales about WE CARE Solar and our efforts to improve health care. Within an hour, he offered all sorts of advice about growing the organization and how to develop an authentic community. “Where’s your hotel?” he asked as I was preparing to leave, “I really love what you are doing, and I have something to give you.” By the next day, he had assembled a box full of books – books on growing a business, taking risks, and on empowering communities. As he explained how each book touched on a part of our conversation the day before and would help WE CARE Solar to grow, my eyes welled up with tears. “We’re all in this together,” he said as he put his hand on my shoulder. “We’re all in this together.”

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