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Osvaldo Castillo
El Observador

Martin Luther King Jr.Day was held on this past Monday, and many throughout the country honored his legacy by dedicating some of their time helping others.
At the Tech Museum in San Jose, nearly 50 Bay Area students and their families came together to build “solar suitcases”, which would then be sent to Sierra Leone, where the life-changing kits will bring light to desperately poor West African schools.

“The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, hundreds of thousands of people across the nation are continuing King’s legacy of service through similarly good deeds,” said Roqua Montez
 Director Public Relations
 at the Tech Museum, “The purpose of the event is to inspire youth to see how they can have a positive impact on the world through technology.”Middle and high school students and their families spent the day in the newly opened “The Tech Studio” learning about solar power engineering before wiring and configuring the portable solar power systems.

The kits will be donated to schools that have no electricity in Sierra Leone through the non-profit Schools for Salone.
“The students range in age from 11 to 17 years old and they are a diverse group of boys and girls from across the Bay Area.” Montez said. “The suitcases – four in total – will be shipped to two schools and two orphanages in Uganda and Sierra Leone in the next month.”“The Tech has partnered with “We Share Solar” to present this project, and the suitcases were generously funded by Applied Materials,” Montez added.The We Share Solar Suitcase is an easy-to-use, easy-to-transport, and complete solar electric system. Increased energy efficiency in lights makes it possible to illuminate a classroom with only 15 watts of electricity. The kit includes a battery, a 20-watt solar panel, a charge controller, switches and wiring.

The kit can be expanded to provide up to 200 watts of solar power.

We Share Solar is a project of WE CARE Solar, a Berkeley non-profit whose Stachel, a gynecologist, was on a trip to Africa to investigate why  women were having trouble delivering their babies. What she found was that most of the hospitals in Africa did not have the proper energy sources needed when a woman was giving birth. From this experience came the idea for the solar suitcases.

Founders, Aronson and Laura Stachel are 2011 The Tech Awards laureates.
Dedicated to improving maternal health care in the developing world, WE CARE Solar has deployed more than 200 solar suitcases around the world.


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