May Installation in Ethiopia

As we have previously disclosed, this May a representative of Light for Life oversaw the installation of the Solar Suitcase we funded. She has written a small summary for us explaining her experience while she was there. We’ve also selected some of our favorite pictures from the trip and those will be shared with you below.

Karin’s Description of the Amarit Health Center:

Amarit HC lies about 50 km southwest of Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara region.  The last 15 km is on very bad gravel roads, through a very green farming area. The HC has 2 midwifes, 1 female and 1 male. There is always a midwife on duty, 24/7.

The Amarit Health Center facility

The Amarit Health Center facility

The female midwife is Tigist Kelemu – she is 24 years old and has a government midwife diploma (3 years). Tigist wanted to become a midwife because she always saw mothers and babies die when she was a child. The male midwife, Tamirat, is 25 years old and has a diploma as a midwife. He has worked as a midwife for about 2 years and really enjoys it.

Midwives Tigist (right) and Tamarit (left)

Midwives Tigist (right) and Tamarit (left)

Both the midwives were really happy with the Solar Suitcase; the light that always works through the nights, the fetal Doppler, the possibility to charge the phones and batteries for the fetal Doppler and the two headlamps that are also included. The headlamps are very good for the midwives to use when they move between rooms at the HC during night. Most patients walk 3-4 hours to get to the HC. The HC has electricity, but it is not reliable, and very often does not work. They can never rely on the electricity, so patients coming in for a delivery have to bring a candle or kerosene for a lamp. 

Fetal Doppler in use with Tigist (left) and Laura Stachel (right)

Fetal Doppler in use with Tigist (left) and Laura Stachel (right)

Some information about the patients there at the time of the visit:

Sasulischazene is 40 and is expecting her 6th child. She walked 17 km to visit the HC for a pre natal check up. She got to hear her baby’s heartbeat for the first time, when midwife Tigist used the fetal doppler. She was amazed! (see photo).  She will most likely not be able to come for delivery, as she cannot leave her home before delivery, and once the contractions start, she said it will be difficult to walk 17 km. Sasulischazene and her husband are farmers. She told me it is a hard life being a farmer and raising kids – you work all the time.

Sasulischazene hearing her baby's heartbeat for the first time

Sasulischazene hearing her baby’s heartbeat for the first time

Farmers Almethay, 20, and her husband Gaschopp, 22, were there for a pre natal check up. They have been married 6 years and are expecting their 2nd child. Their first born is 4 years old. They will try to come for the delivery but they are not sure they can walk to the HC once the contractions start. They walked for a little more than 1 hour. They will come for all 4 pre-natal check ups. They also got to listen to their baby’s heartbeat, using the fetal Doppler.

The Amarit HC has a goal to perform 885 deliveries per year. Usually, there are 30-35 deliveries per month, so their goal is to double the number of deliveries. Previous installations of Solar Suitcases have shown that a doubling is very likely.

Mother who came to see the nurse for natal care

Mother who came to see the nurse for natal care

We also wanted to include an interview with Karin Ranstrand, who was in the Amarit Health Center and met the midwives who run the center. Below you can find a short video with a better description of what the installation process was like.

 

In the near future, we’re hoping to receive data about how the Solar Suitcase is having an impact in Amarit and evaluate its success.

Update – Exciting News!

We apologize for the lack of posts recently – we’re both juniors in high school and find it increasingly difficult to find time away from school. We have recently reached a very exciting goal: we’ve raised enough money to pay for and install a Solar Suitcase in a health center in Ethiopia! After several fundraisers (which we’ve mentioned in earlier blog posts) and the donations of a number of generous community members, we raised 1,600 CHF. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to travel to Ethiopia over spring break, as we had initially hoped to. However, through our contacts with GreenLamp, we were able to have a representative (Karin Ranstrand) from the organization go to the health center and oversee the installation. The installation occurred on May 1st, 2015 at the Amarit Health Center, just 50 km outside of Bahir Dar. We will be posting with more information about this installation in the upcoming days!

This entry was posted in Update.

Trust Women Conference – London, November 2014

“No country moves forward without half of its population,” was a powerful sentiment shared by one of the panellists at the Trust Women Conference in London. Last week, we had the unbelievable opportunity to be part of the conference, as mentioned in our last blog post. The two day event, organized by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, offered us a platform upon which we could enhance our understanding of social matters focusing on women’s issues. It also gathered a number of prominent and inspiring individuals from different backgrounds who shared their insight and experience in the field, thus enabling us to make invaluable connections.

Opening Speech

 

The first day highlighted the issues women face in regards to their lives in mega-cities, their acquisition of land and their role in the economy. The underlying goal of the conference was to put the rule of law behind women’s rights. In other words, the discussions revolving the problems faced by women encouraged the delegates to use our power in law, economics and other fields to combat these issues. This gave us, as students, a new perspective, as we were exposed to innovative and effective ways to approach said subjects.

During the afternoon, we took part in an action group, a smaller discussion between panelists and delegates, focusing on how to combat violence against women in cities. There, individuals such as Laura Bates, Priya Nanda, Ricardo Alvarez and others proposed solutions to this notable topic. They suggested the use of technology and early education to target the control and elimination of this issue. As expressed by one of the panelists on that day, “I’m not going to talk about the problems. I believe in solutions.”

Not only did we experience dynamic and purposeful talks on the first day, but we also met an array of noteworthy people, some of whom showed interest in aiding us in promoting our mission. Among the individuals that we met was Christy Turlington-Burns, model and founder of ‘Every Mother Counts’, an organization targeting the improvement of maternal health and technology in health centers; this struck us as very pertinent to our work. In talking to her, we discovered that she has worked with Laura Stachel, founder of WeCareSolar, who developed the very product that we are raising funds for. Additionally, we spoke with representatives from Women’s Worldwide Web, including Clémence Poésy. In summary, the first day of the conference truly made us hungry for more.

Clemence Poesy

On the second day, we experienced various talks from Nobel Laureates, such as Muhammad Yunus and Kailash Satyarthi, among other inspiring people. One aspect of a story told by Kailash Satyarthi that really struck us was when he stated, “Do they want our eyes or our kidneys?” The context of this story was that the boys were being approached by an organization that wanted to help them. Although the second day was heavily focused on slavery, the psychology behind it and the supply chain, we were interested to see the ground-breaking proposals being made to target these problems. One of the things that we learned, among many others, was that there are approximately 35 million slaves, half of which are in India. Additionally, human trafficking is a 150 billion dollar industry, and 80% of the survivors suffer from PTSD, depression and anxiety.

Similarly to the first day, we met countless individuals, such as Livia Firth, the creative director from Eco-Age, a group that focuses on adding value to brands through sustainability, which ties in closely to Light for Life’s mission. We also met the IT Director, Kristen Davis, from the International New York Times, as well as representatives from Thomson Reuters Foundation, Geneva Global and so on.

artsy

 Photo Credit: Keri Jolley

The 2014 Trust Women Conference has ultimately given us a remarkable experience that will hopefully propel us forward in our efforts to raise awareness for the issue of maternal healthcare. We look forward to staying in contact with the individuals that we met at the conference and to potentially work with them in the near future.

-Hanna and Tathy

This entry was posted in Update.

Trust Women Conference

This summer, both Hanna and I were invited to apply to the Trust Women Conference, “a fast-growing movement to put the rule of law behind women’s rights through concrete action”. The event, which takes place in London, involves a series of speeches and discussion by/with high profile speakers and experts with real international impact. We were selected as students who have shown commitment and passion about women’s rights. Like Light for Life, participants are committed to empower women globally. We were chosen to attend the conference in November, where we will be able to create new networks which might have a great impact on our project. We are excited to make the most out of this opportunity and learn from “global corporations, lawyers, and pioneers in the field of women’s rights”. We will write posts during and after the event!

This entry was posted in Update.

Update – August 2014

As previously stated, our goal with Light for Life is to raise enough money to fund a Solar Suitcase and a trip to Ethiopia in which we will install it in a health center in the rural area of the country. With almost 2,000CHF, our plan to travel in October seemed plausible at the end of last year. However, during the summer, as the Ebola outbreak started in West Africa, we decided it would be best for us to postpone the trip and work on raising more funds for our trip which we hope takes place in 2015.

 

If you are not familiar with the Ebola outbreak, we’ve added a small explanation of what has been going on:

The outbreak in West Africa is one of the largest ones in history. The four countries who are currently affected are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

“Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%. It is one of the world’s most virulent diseases. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients. Ebola outbreaks can devastate families and communities, but the infection can be controlled through the use of recommended protective measures in clinics and hospitals, at community gatherings, or at home.” (World Health Organization)

This entry was posted in Update.

Fundraiser – PA Spring Sale

On May 25th, as another fundraiser event, Hanna and I [Tathy] participated in the Parent’s Association Spring Sale which took place at the Lower School Campus in Waedenswil.

photo 1

This yearly event is like a garage sale in which many families from our community come together to sell and bargain for old items. Hanna and I collected old clothes, toys and accessories that we believed could be sold at the event and rented two tables to display them at the LS theater. Between 9 and 12:30, we acted as saleswomen and together with Karin Ranstrand, the co-founder of GreenLamp, bargained with the buyers to come closer to our goal of 2,200 CHF. Throughout the day, we introduced our project to many parents and teachers and also collected donations from those who were interested in supporting our cause. We brought a Solar Suitcase with us so we could demonstrate its various functions and how it will be used at the health center in rural Ethiopia.

photo 2

During the event, we had a chance to play with the many children who begged their parents to buy them toys, consequently helping us reach our goal. The  people who donated and bought items at our stand were given  homemade brownies as a token of appreciation for supporting the financing of the Solar Suitcase that we hope to bring to Ethiopia in October.

photo 3

By the end of the day, most of the items were sold and a total of 493 francs were raised – much more than expected. The clothes that weren’t bought will be donated to the Kleidung Sammlung in Zuerich. After raising 1,500 francs through Hanna’s sports challenge, we are even closer to reaching our goal after this successful event. The sale also served as a way to raise awareness and general understanding of our project to many members of our community. Our next fundraiser will most likely be a bake sale at the end of the school year to collect the rest of the money needed to buy and install a Solar Suitcase in a health center in rural Ethiopia and also to fund our travels.

Interview with Dr. Laura Stachel

In March 2014, Dr. Laura Stachel, the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the non-profit organization We Care Solar who came up with the concept of the Solar Suitcase, came to Zurich and we had the profound honor to meet and interview her. We conducted an interview in which we asked her numerous questions and had her share her story with us; her experiences are truly exceptional and we were very inspired by meeting her.

Fundraiser – February Break Sports Challenge

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When I [Hanna] first started this charity group, I was having trouble thinking of creative ways to raise money for this great cause. At the time, February break was slowly creeping up on me and I knew that there was a way that I could effectively make use of this opportunity; after all, I was going to be spending a whole nine days in the beautiful alp-village of Klosters, Switzerland. Consequently, I began brainstorming and realized that I could combine my more active activities in Klosters with a way to raise money. I came up with the concept of primarily running and also doing some cross-country skiing as much as I could over the break and having people sponsor me per kilometer. About a week before I was going to embark on this journey, I contacted friends, family and other people around me to see if they wanted to sponsor me. Officially, I had thirteen sponsors and had predicted that I was going to do anything between 30-50 kilometers in total; I was extremely lucky with the generosity that surrounded me and the willingness people had to contribute to this cause.

Over the first days, from the 7th to the 11th of February, I was able to do 44.9 kilometers. It felt incredible knowing that I was doing this for other people and that was what really motivated me. I was determined to do something every single day and I felt unstoppable. However, on the 12th, I woke up with an unpleasant cold that led me to think that it was better not to strain my body to the extent that I had been doing before. I was conflicted whether I should continue doing little distances every day until I got better or whether I should ensure that I was fully healed and then continue at the same pace I had before. Considering I was having some knee pain as well, I settled for the second option and made it an ultimate goal that when I was back from my cold, I would surpass 55 kilometers.

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t fully well again until the 17th of February and school was bound to start again on the 19th, giving me very little time to make up for the lost time. Over those two days, I was able to do 18.8 kilometers, allowing my runs and skis to collectively total to 63.7 kilometers. It was an unbelievable experience for me and I would undoubtedly do it again.

I am still in the long process of collecting all of the donations, but my total sum should be around 1,300 to 1,500 CHF, bringing me significantly closer to my goal of 2,200 CHF for a Solar Suitcase. I am really looking forward to the next fundraiser, for which I already have a few ideas, and hopefully, I will be able to travel to Ethiopia this fall to install my suitcase.

-Hanna