IMPACT
10/25/2014 04:47 pm ET Updated Nov 11, 2014

'You Can't Fight Ebola In The Dark,' So This Company Is Lending A Hand With Solar Lights

A handheld light might not seem like much, but its glow can save lives.

WakaWaka, a Netherlands-based company known for sending sustainable and efficient LED devices to countries where there is limited or no electricity, has its sights set on getting portable solar lights to West Africa.

The company wants to get its WakaWaka Base, a first aid kit with a light and power supplier, to those working on combating the Ebola virus, which has claimed nearly 5,000 lives in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. More than 90 percent of people living in these regions have no electricity.

"You can’t fight Ebola in the dark," Camille van Gestel, founder and CEO of WakaWaka, told The Huffington Post. "Ebola doesn’t sleep at night and the fever doesn’t go down when the sun goes down. Many of the makeshift clinics do not have light to treat the infected after dark. I imagine that being a health care worker, in a room full of Ebola patients, with inadequate protection, and in the dark, may actually feel like a suicide mission."

Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, director of infection control at the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories at Boston University and infectious disease doctor at Boston Medical Center, helped treat Ebola victims in Sierra Leone and described the toll darkness can take.

"Electricity goes out all the time," she told CBS News. "You're in the unit, you're treating a child, electricity goes out and it's the dark. You leave that child. You know that child may not survive. To be the physician in that moment with that patient, it's the hardest thing you'll ever do."

WakaWaka has been using Kickstarter to raise money to develop the WakaWaka Base. For each pledge made to the Kickstarter campaign, the company has committed to giving a solar light to Ebola health care workers, first responders and families in West Africa.

The campaign surpassed its donation goal of $70,000 in less than 6 hours and has collected more than $180,000. WakaWaka Lights have already been included in 10,000 Ebola prevention kits sent to medical clinics and health care workers in Africa.

WakaWaka says it needs funding, distribution and shipping partners in order to continue helping areas in need. But van Gestel is also thinking about the bigger picture.

"The Ebola crises has only highlighted why now more than ever we must succeed in lighting up Liberia and other countries where access to electricity has a critical, large-scale effect on health, safety, education, community and economic development, especially in remote regions, disaster-struck, or war-torn areas," van Gestel said.

Click here to donate to the Kickstarter campaign, and spread the word using the hashtags #WakaWaka or #sharethesun.

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