Maewo is making waves in the media! Earlier in May we were featured in a blog post by 1 World Connected and the Internet Society. Highlighting the positive impacts of the Vanuatu Inter-Island Telemedicine and Learning (VITAL) Network Project, the post emphasizes the health benefits that have resulted from our island’s telemedicine initiative. In less than six months, the network has “improved health outcomes through more than 1,250 interactions to solve routine and life-threatening cases alike”. It is awesome to be recognized across the world for the progress we have made.
Once upon a time (7 years, 11 months, and 17 days ago to be exact), a young boy wrote a message. He stuffed it in a bottle then, with a light toss, the message was sent on a journey across the world.
This letter floated across the Pacific Ocean, bobbing up and down with the waves. Following a path more than 5,666 km (3,521 miles) long, the message likely passed by bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, and dugongs before the tides delivered it to the shores of Naviso.
Receiving this letter, we feel humbled by the realization that its journey, which took years to travel, can now be made in mere seconds with the Internet. It is amazing to see how technology has progressed! The messages we receive and send from the shores of Maewo serve as special reminders, showing how far we have come 🙂
On July 2nd, 2016 the Internet was turned for Maewo Island. We celebrated this occasion and officially launched the Telemedicine portion on Thursday, July 28 2016. The high speed internet made possible by Kacific Broadband Satellite is the only connectivity the hosting village, Naviso, has with the outside world. You can see the videos from the live feed of the event, below.
The guests of Honour included the arrival of the Honourable Prime Minister of Vanuatu Mr. Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas and the Honourable Minister of Health Mr. Daniel Toara via helicopter.
Also honourable guests in attendance (arrived the day before) were Honourable MP Mr. Ian Wilson, DG of Health Mr. George Taleo, Telecommunications and Radiocommunications (TRR) Regulator Mrs. Dalsie Baniala, Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) Chief Information Officer Mr. Gerard Metsan, CEO and Board Director of Kacific Broadband Satellite Mr. Christian Patouraux, TRR Universal Access Policy Advisor Mr. Brad Partridge, Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) Secondary Education Coordinator Mrs. Sussie Homu, and OGCIO Representative Mr. John Jack.
The launching celebrates the improved access to healthcare services, connection to doctors and professional health care providers, accurate and timely information, access to learning opportunities and improvement in the livelihoods of our communities, which were all made possible by the communities’ drive and efforts to connect to the Internet.
Part 6 (accidentally labelled part 7 on YouTube)
These minutes and photos were sent via Facebook message to Alexis Cullen, who was in Port-Vila at the time and unable to attend. Alexis has posted these on behalf of the Public Relations Officer, Cathriona. This is written in Bislama, the national language of Vanuatu.
MINIT BLONG MAEWO TLECOMUNICATION KOMITY MITING
Date: 9th May 2016
Place: Qwatiowoli, Central Maewo
Time: 8: 00 am
Members present: 37
Wlkam mo prea
Minit blong las miting
Toktok long minit
Budget mo Account blong Tele.Komiti.
1. MITING I OPEN / WELKAM MO PREA.
Jeaman Mr. Ezekiel Boelum I talem welkam long ol membas we I presen mo kol apon Eld. Martin Christy (observer) blong openem miting wetem prea.
2. MINIT BLONG LAS MITING.
Secretary Madam Lily Mana I ridimaot minit mo evriwan I agree long minit blong las miting.
3. TOKTOK LONG MINIT
Vice jeaman Mr. Japin Ngwera I kwestenem labour cost blong communication Tower se bae community support I kam in long wanem time?
Chairman I ansa se as soon as yumi finisim budget bae pipol I save start blong participate mo involve long fand raise mo also blong givhan long labour (free labour).
4. BUDGET MO ACCOUNT BLONG MAEWO TELECOMUNICATION KOMITI.
Mr. Ezekiel Boelum I stanap mo welkamem Hon. Ian Wilson M.P blong Maewo Constituency. Hemi se Hon. MP I kam blong lesin mo givim sapot long Maewo Telecomunication project. Mr. Chairman I se naoia komiti I no mekem inaf mane yet, be I gud plan blong each individual memba bae I contribute long VT 200 start long tudei 9th May kasem 23rd May 2016. Membas contribution ya I kavremap ol vilij ya I gat Gaiowo, Lalavaru, Betarara, Kerepei, Rongnawo, Umlongo, Qwatiowoli, Ngota mo Naviso.
Afta long plante toktok, komiti I resolve se budget miting bae stap afta long 23rd May mo MP. Ian I mekem support toktok mo komitim hem blong donetem fifty thousand (VT 50.000) I kam long Maewo Telecommunication Komity. Komiti I apreciatem financial support we I kam long Hon. MP. Mo miting I resolve tu se long Wednesday 11th May 2016 bae jeaman, Mr. Ezekiel Boelum, Vice Chairman, Mr. Japin Ngwera mo secretary Madam Lily Mana bae oppenem account blong Maewo Telecommunication.
5. MITING KLOS.
Jeaman I talem thank yu long evriwan we I kam mo searem tingting long miting mo kol apon Fr. Augustin (observer) blong klosem miting wetem prea.
Time: 12: 00 pmm
Minit Sign by:
Excitement is in the air!!! On July 2nd, 2016 our grassroots efforts will finally come to fruition; the Vanuatu Inter-Island Telemedicine and Learning (VITAL) Network Project will connect Naviso and Kerepei villages to the internet! This is a huge step forward as we work to improve the health and well-being of our community. For more information about the project, check out the latest buzz in articles posted by ABC News and the Vanuatu Daily Post.
For Immediate Release
May 2, 2016 – GWATIAWOL VILLAGE, MAEWO ISLAND, Republic of Vanuatu:
For the first time in Vanuatu, remote villagers without access to mobile network have taken matters into their own hands by fundraising to build the communities’ own mobile network tower. The charitable association is called the Maewo Telecommuncations Committee (Inc.), or MTC, and was officially registered with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission on the 5th of April 2016.
While the MTC must raise funds for the tower on their own, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO), the Telecommunications and Radiocommunications Regulator (TRR), and the Ministry of Health (MoH) have expressed support of the project to make sure health clinics on Maewo will have access to the Government Broadband Network (GBN), once the tower is completed. In addition, Telsat Broadband has agreed to let MTC purchase materials to build the tower at cost, and will be providing on the job training to one of Maewo’s certified electrical engineers in order to maintain the system.
This work is one small part of a larger initiative called the Vanuatu Inter-Island Telemedicine and Learning Network (VITAL), which is launching a pilot in conjunction with MTC and enables a pathway for communication between all levels of care from the aid post to Lolowai Provincial Hospital and through to Luganville’s Northern District Hospital on Santo Island. Telemedicine, a type of healthcare service using voice, video, and other Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), lets doctors connect and diagnose ailments of patients on outer islands without the need for travel, unless surgery or another hands on medical intervention is needed.
MTC Chairman and former President of Penama Province, Ezekiel Boelum, stated, “We have petitioned the government and asked network providers for years. In 2003, TVL introduced mobile phone service to rural communities in Maewo and in 2007 Digicel service was added; however, the Eastern side, especially Naviso Village, never received network service. We started this committee to improve health, education, information sharing and communication and to lift up the standard of living in our communities through mobile network and Internet.”
Since broadband Internet access is almost non-existent on Maewo, schools, government offices and health facilities are currently unable to connect electronically with government offices. Bridging these connections with reliable telecommunications will improve educational opportunities, monitoring of government services, and health outcomes. Also, it will help to end needless deaths and to advance long-term economic, social and community development prospects. The MTC has expressed the desire to help other underserved islands with grant applications, construction plans, and lessons learned for towers once the project is finished.
The MTC is looking for support from the Ni-Vanuatu and expatriate communities through an online crowdfunding effort, which will be launched soon. In addition, they will be selling food and handicrafts at ICT Days on May 17th and 18th at the National Convention Centre. If you would like to help or to learn more, please visit http://www.facebook.com/MaewoWifi.
Technology comes in all shapes and sizes. In the case of the Solar Powered Educational Learning Library (SPELL), the shape is a rectangle and the size is small. Creating what we call “kiaman internet” (fake internet in Bislama) this compact device allows our community to connect to educational content through an online platform. While the SPELL cannot connect our village to the globe, it does help us build our internet literacy skills as we search for content, download educational videos, and navigate the SPELL website.
For more information about the device and to see reactions from it’s big debut check out the links below!
— MTC Vanuatu (@IslandICT4D) April 8, 2016
— MTC Vanuatu (@IslandICT4D) April 8, 2016