Laura Stachel and Hal Aronson
Laura Stachel and Hal Aronson, founders of We Care Solar which helps save lives in developing countries

A Berkeley innovator, entrepreneur and doctor this week won a 2013 CNN Heroes award for her inspiring work bringing light to delivery rooms across the world.

Laura Stachel and her husband Hal Aronson invented a solar suitcase in the garage of their Elmwood home which saves lives around the world in places that lack reliable electricity. [Read our April 2012 profile of the Berkeley couple.]

It started when Stachel discovered that women and babies were dying during childbirth simply because there wasn’t adequate light to treat them. Since 2009, their nonprofit, We Care Solar, has given out nearly 250 free kits to medical facilities in Africa, Asia and South America.

Stachel says the solar suitcase is only part of a bigger mission to improve maternal health care and lower mortality rates in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, around 800 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. And 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.

It’s not the first time Stachel’s achievements have been recognized. In April last year the Berkeley City Council issued Stachel and Aronson with a proclamation. Also last year Stachel was introduced by Diane Sawyer as “Person of the Week” on ABC World News Tonight, PBS Newshour ran an eight-minute segment on the couple’s work, and the pair appeared on CBS after winning the Nokia Tech Awards as part of the San Jose Tech Museum Tech Awards. 

Follow We Care Solar on Facebook to hear about their latest news and projects.

From a Berkeley garage, a solar initiative that saves lives [04.16.12]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...