Vote Now! Papa Murphy’s Final Quarter Friday Night Favorite

Local Students Build ‘Solar Suitcases’ to Help Spread Renewable Energy in Third-World Countries

It's called a solar suitcase -- an ingenious package created by the Berkeley-based We Share Solar, a company devoted to bringing cheap energy to third-world countries.

"Provides about four hours of light at night and be recharged off of solar power," said David Yeroshek with Foothill High Energy Academy.

A PG&E school program allows students like Delaney Moore and Donovan LeCompte to put together the suitcase components for shipment to Africa.
It's a chance for them to get hands on experience in the growing field of alternative energy.

With this kind of project, there are rewards beyond just getting a grade.

Just a week ago, Yeroshek got an e-mail from the We Share Solar team at the Emanlindi Primary School in Kenya. The class' unit was installed and is providing light so students can study at night for their all-important national exams. Pictures show just how much it means to students who had been using flashlights and kerosene lamps.

They had an emotional impact on the Foothill High Students.

Donovan felt a connection -- placing himself in the shoes of students half a world away.

"Not having the access to electricity, being able to study for your classes, would be just horrific," he said.

The solar suitcase project affords a lesson in social consciousness.

"Not only does it give them personal experience with technology, but allows them to have a personal understanding, an empathy, for what it is like to be in many parts of the world today," Yeroshek said.

Delaney was struck by the smiling faces she saw.

"That's one thing that impacted my life and probably lots of other people's lives too that actually those solar suitcases," she said.

Such images have the potential to "light the way," if you will, to the future.

"They kind of set me straight on what I might want to be doing with my life," Donovan said.