Health Center Visits: Seeing the Real-Life Impact of Solar Suitcases First Hand
Getting the money together for projects is always a big challenge, but our commitment to the Solar Suitcase initiative doesn't end with fundraising. In March 2017, GreenLamp team members Kathleen Hedman and Joanna Boyd travelled to Ethiopia as part of our continuous monitoring and evaluation procedures. They visited many health centers, driving in conditions they later described as “death defying, rough, almost un-drivable, not graded and extremely treacherous!”. After many 100's of kilometres, two particular health centers stood out - one of them had a Solar Suitcase already installed, and the other is due to get one in our next installation phase later in 2017.
The Dedere Health Center in Mekele has no mains electricity at all, so we were especially pleased to have been able to fund a Solar Suitcase here in June 2016. Solar power now helps 11 health professional to care for the 11,000 people in the Dedere Health Center's catchment area. Joanna and Kathleen were delighted to talk with Atsede Desta, one of the midwives at the center. Atsede was confident demonstrating how everything on the Solar Suitcase worked and explained “We use the foetal doppler when mothers are close to delivery because it counts the heartbeat automatically. The ear horn is less effective and more uncomfortable for the mother.”
Joanna and Kathleen also visited the Gororo Health Center, near Axum, which has a staggering 19,000 people in its catchment area and only 10 health professionals. These inspirational medical staff help 100 patients per day and manage 50 deliveries per month on average. Both Himot Baraki the Director, and Slas Wimscnea, one of the midwives (pictured in peach top, left), are very keen to receive a Solar Suitcase, commenting that ‘We have very unreliable electricity and are a very hands on team, so we know the Solar Suitcase will be invaluable.” Gororo Health Center will receive a Solar Suitcase in the next installment in 2017.