I’m delighted to share with the COHI community that the two WeCare Solar Suitcases are installed and functioning in Waspam municipality, Nicaragua.Our maternal health community partners are delighted and thrilled to have light!

 If you have never resided in an area where you can’t take the electric system for granted, or you have no electric system to begin with, it’s difficult to convey what a difference light can make to a community. In circumstances like these, we don’t get to determine when it suddenly goes dark. And imagine this happening while you are assisting a birth. Getting to Waspam requires a cross-country flight in a small plane, and getting two solar suitcases to such a remote location was no small feat. For women with high-risk pregnancies living in such remote settings, having a powered maternity clinic nearby can mean the difference between life and death.

Guillermina Lockood Moska is the clinic administrator of Santa Inez Casa Materna and she received training in the use and care of the suitcases. At COHI, we intentionally partner with and train women community leaders; Guillermina intimately knows the needs of the women and infants at her clinic, and training her in the maintenance of the WeCare Solar Suitcases provides her with additional technical knowledge. 

Casa Materna is a successful program in the remote regions of Nicaragua providing pregnant mothers and their families a safe sleeping space and nutritional meals while they await maternity care either at the clinic or at nearby hospitals. Birth in rural Nicaragua can be dangerous, as access to emergency obstetric care is limited due to poor transportation and infrastructure and the remoteness of most villages. Because of this, women with high-risk pregnancies are encouraged to travel safely to the nearest Casa Materna for medical attention before and after the birth. Additionally, because mothers travel with their family to receive care, Casa Maternas offer room and board for the mother and family. This program has drastically increased the number of mothers receiving maternal healthcare in rural Nicaragua.

The day we installed the suitcases, Guillermina’s facility, which was designed to sleep 18 mothers had over a hundred women and children staying there, and this is pretty much business as usual and demonstrates the real need for these services. Guillermina, and her Sister Superior were so excited that we brought and installed the solar suitcases- now they can help women throughout the night during deliveries at the clinic! Having power also means more prenatal checkups with the provided doppler in the WeCare Solar Suitcase, and power for midwives to charge cell phones in case they are needed for nearby home births. The second installation was done at the second Casa Materna in Waspam, and midwife Jordina Moore received the same training as Guillermina to maintain the upkeep of the WeCare Solar Suitcases.

Make sure to stay tuned for more updates as COHI deepens its presence here in Nicaragua!