“Send me a desktop computer that I have no way to power & I will have a nice stool to sit or prop my feet. Send appropriate technology & I will transform my community.” - P. Chabata, Zimbabwe
Poverty comes in many forms. And often, well-intentioned persons and organizations find their efforts thwarted, because context isn't being considered.
At United Methodist Communications, we have found affordable, appropriate and accessible tools that do work – when coupled, of course, with intentional human interaction! For example, a simple ruggedized laptop, like the one seen to the left, when equipped with an open source software called FrontlineSMS, can send group text messages without the need of Internet. Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau of the Democratic Republic of the Congo calls this laptop her magical rural instrument because its battery runs up to 9 hrs. She uses it to send messages to her community telling them to boil water when there is a cholera outbreak, and provide other health alerts.
Simple solar lights like this one which also has a cellphone charger can reappropriate the wages of someone living in poverty – away from kerosene purchases and into simply making life better and healthier.
After Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, these lights enabled families to keep their cell phones charged and communicate with family and friends outside the devastated area.
Information Communication Technology [ICT] villages are being created not through Americans going in and building the ICT infrastructure, but by using local capacity who are trained to implement, repair and maintain systems.
We are in exciting times, where new communication technologies are being used to bring hope and build community capacity.