Article by: Matt Sicat
Photograph from: Solarenergy.org
In 2008, CNN Hero and Doctor Laura Stachel first began her projects with solar lights and childbirtht in Nigeria, Africa. Nigeria, is notorious for being one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth in, with roughly 40,000 deaths a year due to childbirth complications. Laura realized that one of the main reasons for these complications was simply a lack of light. “We didn’t even have adequate light to treat them,” Stachel says in a CNN interview. Without sufficient lighting, it was almost impossible to properly treat a patient if complications were to occur. To solve this issue, with the help of her engineer husband, Laura Stachel provided solar panel lighting technologies for clinics all around the country. Since 2008, her NGO, We Care Solar, has provided solar lighting to facilities in over 27 countries.
Fast forward to late 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, or known locally as Yolanda, made landfall in the Philippines. Haiyan is the strongest typhoon in recorded history, clocking in winds over 300 kilometers per hour. Stachel, along with midwife Robin Lim (CNN hero of 2011) made their way down to Tacloban, Philippines, to promote safe and caring motherhood in the wake of the storm. Similar to the situation in Nigeria, midwives in Tacloban were experiencing complications with working in the dark. Blackouts in Tacloban were common before the storm; the typhoon however, worsened the situation, as the majority of Tacloban was now without electricity. “Without light, you can’t expect what’s going to happen, you just say all your prayers, hoping the mother and baby will be fine,” says Midwife Grace. Stachel worked her magic once again, providing the midwives of Tacloban solar equipment and lights to help deliver newborn babies in the darkened and devastated city. Stachel and Lim plan to further their aid in Tacloban and the Philippines, promising to help repair clinics, aid in deliveries, and distributing “Solar Suitcases,” which provide lighting, cell phone charging, and even fetal monitoring, among other appliances.
Laura Stachel was named a CNN hero in 2013 for her selfless actions around the globe. She’s provided her support in dozens of third world countries around the world, and whilst her visit to Tacloban was not her first trip to help the needy, it most certainly will not be her last. As a true hero, her work is never done.