During the September 2018 implementation in Comoros, the SolarSPELL team also had the opportunity to visit Peace Corps volunteer Andrew’s site. Andrew’s school recently received computers donated from the World Bank and we were able to see the computer room that had been set up. Despite having access to computers, Internet connectivity was not yet a reality. However, with the use of SolarSPELL, these computers were able to connect to the wealth of resources stored in the digital library!

Andrew and his local teacher counterpart Abdallah had invited a room full of students, ranging from high school-aged students to university level students, to participate in a SolarSPELL led training workshop. During this workshop, the SolarSPELL team provided an overview of the SolarSPELL project, a demonstration of how to connect to and navigate the digital library, and walked the students through several of the available resources that can supplement their studies.

While providing highlights of the library’s content–the electricity suddenly went out! The immediate feeling in the room was disappointment that the computers would no longer work, and that a workshop would typically need to be halted. Instead, the SolarSPELL team was delighted to remind the students that they could take out their smartphones, connect over WiFi to the SolarSPELL with these devices, and within seconds they were exploring the library again! This experience quickly reinforced the importance of providing a solar-powered, self-sustaining digital library, that can serve as a reliable resource despite intermittent electricity or Internet access.

The SolarSPELL team was inspired by the students’ enthusiasm for gaining access to resources that could support them in their studies, and was grateful to have experienced an in-the-field moment that reinforced SolarSPELL’s goal to provide increased access to educational materials, regardless of the resource-constraints that communities may face.

Thank you to Peace Corps Comoros, Andrew, Abdallah, and their community, for hosting us!