Hi SolarSPELL team,
First, thank you for the opportunity for me to present such a cool device to a remote village in Vanuatu!
I really enjoyed delivering the SPELL unit to the village of Vetimboso near my site here on the island of Vanua Lava. To date it has been the most rewarding project that I have encountered during my service. The Head Mistress and her teaching staff were elated to receive such a cool device. Internet is rare in this part of the world, as you know. Those who are lucky enough to have a smartphone and are geographically situated to receive data find that the service is too slow for any serious browsing. Because the SPELL system provides fast and reliable access to information without reliance on an external network it was more than well received. It’s always good to see happy customers.
The trip to the school in Vetimboso by four wheel drive truck took about and hour and a half from the Provincial Center here in Sola. I was greeted at the school with a custom greeting of fresh mats covered with fresh flower pedals, and refreshments of fresh fruit and a fruit drink. Very welcoming.
After introductions and refreshments I demonstrated the unit. I followed with a training session that included both a session on finding content, and a session on the workings and maintenance of the unit. All of the staff remained fully engaged and were truly engrossed in learning about the device. A hands on session was also given to assure their full understanding of the system.
I see great value in this system for developing countries like Vanuatu. I see a huge “bang for the buck” advantage of distributing more of these systems throughout the islands. Although we do have Internet available, it is unlikely that the Internet will be able to serve most of the population in the remote areas of the county. Although the local Service Provider is expanding its network, there is still the issue of affordability. Further, most remote villages are without electricity, so usage is very limited even for those who can afford a data plan.
I have received some feedback about the system, mostly regarding requests to update the digital library with custom content as needed by the schools in addition to what is already there. At their request, I have helped the school in Vetimboso with the purchase of a projector for use with the system. They will use a small generator to power it and use it for the classroom.
Thanks again for the opportunity and continue the good work.
Peace Corps Volunteer
Republic of Vanuatu