The SolarSPELL team had the opportunity to visit various Peace Corps sites across Malekula and Tana during the recent implementation trip to Vanuatu. Majority of these volunteers had been trained by the SolarSPELL team in 2018, while a couple were third-year volunteers (trained in 2017) who extended their service to continue their work in their community. SolarSPELL’s Sustainable Implementation Lead, Chloe Scott, had the privilege of traveling to three of these sites. The following describes her experience and the invaluable information she learned.

Mallory and Colten’s Site

Mallory and Colten are both in their second year of service and have had the SolarSPELL digital library for about a year. Mallory serves as a Community Health volunteer who works at a dispensary. Colten serves as an education volunteer who works in the library of his primary school.

I was very excited to learn that at the Dispensary, Mallory and her counterpart, Lorna, use the SolarSPELL with patients and their families while they are waiting to be seen or in recovery. As an example, Mallory shared that Mamas from the community will bring their children to the clinic to get vaccinated. Lorna and Mallory turn on the SolarSPELL so they can access the digital library while they wait. 

Mallory also shared that Lorna is an avid user of the SolarSPELL. If they are experiencing a slow week at the Dispensary, Lorna often uses the library every day to develop her own knowledge and skills. Lorna also has a son, Elison, who loves the SolarSPELL because it helped him and his friends complete schoolwork and study for the National exams last year. He said it helped them understand topics they needed to know for the National exam, especially math and science. He believes he would have failed the math section of the exam without the SolarSPELL. He is now studying at the top school in the country in Port Vila!

On Sundays after church, Mallory also turns on the SolarSPELL digital library in the center of the community. The signal reaches everyone in their houses, so families are able to connect to the digital library themselves and access the information they desire. Once, she shared, there were about 50 community members accessing the SolarSPELL digital library on 25 shared devices. Mallory believes the most positive outcome of the SolarSPELL is the curiosity it fosters within people.

At the school, Colten uses the SolarSPELL with teachers outside of class time. The teachers access the SolarSPELL on their phones to research topics and support their lesson planning. The school, in collaboration with Colten, is close to completing their fundraiser that will support the school in getting laptops for the library. Once the laptops are implemented at the library, Colten plans to facilitate ICT and SolarSPELL workshops with the teachers and students in the school.