The following is an excerpt from an interview that occurred at the Game Changers Summit 2015 in Nashville, TN September 17-19. Rethink Church was honored to be able to speak with Sam Perales from Inveneo.
Rethink Church: Sam, thank you for joining us here at the Game Changers Summit. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you are being a game changer.
Sam: First of all I want to say thank you to United Methodist Communications for putting on this great event, Game Changers Summit 2015. We’ve been learning a lot of great stuff about ICT4D—Information and Communication Technologies for Development. There are a lot of people who haven’t heard that acronym very much.
So, I work for Inveneo, which is like a subject matter expert on information and communication technologies for development. Development includes developing countries, rough environments, and areas with little to no Internet. We at Inveneo really focus on providing the right hardware for your school’s computers, medical clinics, or for your church. We do a lot of work around local partnership capacity building. We build entrepreneurial initiatives and supplement them with training. So when we’re not there, our local partner can assist you and work on that system.
D.G. Hollums, Minister of Online Engageent with Rethink Church (left), interviews Sam Perales with Inveneo (right).
Rethink Church: You are the ultimate connector.
Sam: Yes, you could say the ultimate connector. We always work with our local partner. We usually put boots on the ground for the initial installation and design and figure out hardware you might need.
Rethink Church: Give us an example where there was a need, someone contacted you, and you gave them a solution.
Sam: We work on different projects anywhere from U.S. AID projects where we’ll be a subcontractor on the technology piece to working with a small NGO. Here is an example of a small project in Kenya.
There’s a group called Organic Health Response. They work with basic HIV education and clinic services. There is a little island in middle of Lake Victoria with no connectivity. So, they contacted Inveneo to see if we can come set up a wireless link to the remote island. Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya and on the border of the lake. Kisumu also has high-speed Internet. The island is 90 km away and cannot receive the typical Wi-Fi signal. So, on the Kisumu side there’s a public building that’s 14 stories tall…
Rethink Church: The tallest place you could find in Kisumu?
Sam: Yes, the tallest place we could find. We set up a big dish on the top of that public building.
Rethink Church: How does this system work to get Wi-Fi to the island?
Sam: The way our system works is you have to have line-of-sight between the two dishes or antennas. You go from the highest point in Kisumu to the highest point on the island side. My co-worker set the dish all the way to the top of a mountain. They actually built a 20-meter mast on top of the peak, put a radio antenna up there pointing back at the Kisumu building, and they have Internet now. From there they were able to transmit W-Fi to different parts of their clinics and some of their educational centers. Now this island that had no Internet is connected. And anybody who can see that mast on the island can receive the Internet. It is a good project and extremely rewarding knowing we helped provide for the clinic and schools.
Rethink Church: If a church or individual is watching who feels a passion about wanting to join in this work, what would be your suggestion? How could you help them do something for developing countries?
Sam: I think the first step is understanding communication. They can reach out to us. They can reach out to UMCom.org and the ICT4D Department. You guys are doing a phenomenal job as a connector between churches, people, and the work for development. We work closely with UMCom. The first idea is to figure out what you’d like to do. Then we can help with the design, equipment needs, and budget to see if it’s something that is feasible or needs to be adjusted.
We are working with some United Methodists in Haiti who have a compound with a school, guesthouse, and a clinic. They only have one Internet connection, and they want to share it to the other locations without having to pay for five different Internet connections.
Rethink Church: So, they need the Internet to reach five different locations in the compound, but no wired infrastructure to supply the internet.
Sam: Exactly, so if you can get connectivity from outside the compound with one Internet connection, then you can actually spread it to other locations as long as you have line-of-sight.
Rethink Church: Sam, Thank you for joining us.