Lighting the Darkness in Partnership with WE CARE Solar and Rural Communities!

Can you imagine personally delivering–or birthing–a baby in total darkness? What if your wife, mother, sister, or friend needed to undergo an emergency cesarean section to save her life or the life of her unborn child’s? These thoughts are terrifying, and Safe Mother, Safe Babies believes that nobody should ever face such conditions as a reality. That is why SAFE partnered with WE CARE Solar to bring Solar Suitcases to Ugandan health facilities’ maternity wards and operating theaters. Our first set of installations took place in December, but right now, WE CARE Solar is in Uganda doing more installations as we speak! Check out the pictures and captions below for some insight into their experiences with SAFE! 
Above: Operating Theater Nurse Rebecca with the December-installed Solar Suitcase in the Iganga District Hospital Operating Theater. She is holding the mobile light that the OR team uses during cesarean sections (so they can get just the right positioning) when the power goes out! WE CARE Solar Technical Director and Engineer, Hal Aronson, is in the background.

Above: WE CARE Solar Executive Director, Laura Stachel, and Technical Director, Hal Aronson, at the Lubira Health Center Solar Suitcase Celebration! The community groups with which SAFE works put on a HUGE celebration to promote the Solar Suticase and celebrate the help they received from WE CARE Solar and SAFE. It featured songs, dramas, dancing, and a health fair, and was the biggest celebration we’ve had yet (hundreds of people came)!

Above: During the celebration, Laura Stachel (clinically trained OB/GYN) went into the health center to help deliver a health baby boy under the newly installed Solar Suitcase lights. The mother was so appreciative of all the help she received that she named her son “Hal” after Hal Aronson, WE CARE Solar’s Technical Director who installed the Solar Suitcase!

This is further proof of the great work that can happen when two dynamic and dedicated nonprofits work TOGETHER to bring sustainable change to rural maternal and child health. We have loved working with WE CARE Solar, and are excited for all the work we will continue to accomplish together, lighting up the darkness, in full and equal partnership with rural Ugandan women, their families, and health facilities.

The Solar Suitcase at Work!

Check out this photo from SAFE interns Hayley Heath, Ahsley Larsen, and Rachel Fisher. Hayley, Ashley, and Rachel have been in Uganda since May (3 month stay!) evaluating, “Light the Night,” our joint project with WE CARE Solar that brough 20 Solar Suitcases to Ugandan maternal health facilities. In the picture below, the Iganga District Hospital Operating Theater staff are using a mobile Solar Suitcase light to start an IV on a newborn during a power outage. Awesome work all the way around!!

Light the Night Project in Action!

Jacquie Cutts (CEO and Founder of SAFE), Richard Cutts (SAFE technical director), and Rachel Fisher (SAFE intern) have been hard at work in Uganda this past week, installing Solar Suitcasess and training health workers and SAFE’s in-country staff at several hospitals on how to operate, install, and repair the devices. Through the effective and sustainable implementation of these machines, they are certainly making the Light the Night project – in collaboration with WE CARE Solar– a great success.

On Sunday, December 18th and Monday the 19th, the group had several meetings with community leaders and partner organizations to discuss the installation of the devices. At the first stop, Ibulanku Health Center, the group met with the individual in charge, Sulamain Lule, who was very excited about the installations of the Humless units, which he said, according to Jacquie, will be a great step in “strengthening all the facets of the local health system.”

As Jacquie explained, “installing the older version Solar Suitcase at Bukoteka, then the Humless units at Ibulanku, fixing Busesa’s panels, and installing the new Solar Suitcases (with expansion packs) at the Iganga District Hospital will help to ensure quality care at each step in the chain of health care delivery.”
The next stop was the village of Busembe, Kalalu Parish in Iganga District, where the group checked on SAFE’s projects and discussed plans to hold a community health fair day on December 26th with Ugandan groups Women’s Voice, Bugya Bukye, and KAMEDE (Kalalu Men’s Development Association). SAFE will provide HIV and malaria testing and counseling, immunizations (specifically targeted at women and children), malaria treatment, and mosquito nets for 300-400 people expected to attend.
On Monday, the group met with Dr. Susan Wandera Kayizzi, the Deputy Country Director of AMREF Uganda in Kampala, who helped to work out the logistics for the arrival of the rest of the Solar Suitcases, and described her experiences doing caesarian sections with the unreliable lighting caused by power outages, particularly this past year.
Tuesday saw more meetings, with the White Ribbon Alliance and UNICEF, and the completion of two Solar Suitcase installations with accompanying training, especially for the UNICEF workers who will be finishing the installations once the group departs. The first installation was at Kyampisi Heath Center III, a UNICEF-affiliated health center, and the other at Kyetume Health Center III. 
 
After the installation at Kyampisi, Jacquie showed a midwife and clinical officer how to use a fetal Doppler, which allowed a pregnant woman who was there for prenatal care to hear her baby’s heartbeat. Jacquie also spoke with them about the Solar Suitcase:

“I talked about how it was now their Solar Suitcase—that it was for them, their babies, and their families, so that the health providers could provide better care. I talked with them about helping the providers ensure that the Suitcase was used properly, that it wasn’t used to charge other people’s phones, and that nothing would get stolen, because then the power wouldn’t work anymore. They all promised to “join hands” in “their project.”

On Wednesday, the group installed one out of the two Solar Suitcases at the Iganga District Hospital. Despite some challenges with time constraints, the SAFE group was very happy to have done this installation, for unsurprisingly that night there was a power outage during an emergency cesarean section. But, according to the OR nurse, the Solar Suitcase remedied the problem very effectively:

“We just switched on the light and then we finished. We did all of them, and we took it into the first room too, so that we could treat the motor vehicle accident patients.”

The Light the Night project is already truly making a difference in its early days. Check back soon for more exciting updates!

Do Something Seed Grant Implementation!

Kalalu Women’s Voice (women’s group) welcoming SAFE with a song.
Women in Kalalu Women’s Voice now incorporate nutrition education in their safe motherhood activities (especially a brand new safe motherhood home-to-home visitation program).
For the first time ever, the men of Kalalu–specifically of Bugya Bukye and KAMEDE men’s group–attended a safe motherhood training. Traditionally, local cultural views birth and child-rearing as a female responsibility; by participating in this training, these men are showing their commitment to safe motherhood–and we couldn’t be happier!

A men demonstrating “kangaroo care” as part of safe motherhood training.

One of the women’s groups fields, which will be used for planting the organic sweet potatoes and passion fruit seeds that were purchased by the Do Something Seed Grant, after the groups received organic farming training.

Webale inho (Thank you so much) Do Something!!!!