technology for a dollar a day world

Today, Blog Action Day cites 10,000 blogs trying to raise awareness of poverty and initiate action amongst 10,000,000 projected readers. They suggest posts consistent with a site’s other topics that address poverty. It’s very late in the day, so probably best to wait to say much, but here’s a start and some seeds for future posts.

Much of my time is focused on helping the poorest of the poor in rural Nicaragua, where families subsist on US $1/day income. Red Arco Iris, as it is known in Nicaragua, a.k.a. Rainbow Network in the U.S., provides feeding centers, micro-loans, housing assistance, schools and educational assistance, and physicians and dentists at community clinics.

Of course, computer technology, Internet communication, cell phones, fax machines and other standard office accoutrements enable and facilitate Red Arco Iris staff in the seven regional offices. The staff enablement may be felt indirectly in the communities, but we can be much more ambitious.

Our “feet on the ground” efforts have little to do with modern technology: food at the feeding centers is prepared on open fires, micro-loan committees depend on hand-written communication, the houses we help build are concrete/cinder-block/tin-roof construction, classes may be held under a shade tree, doctors practice in makeshift clinics, and so forth.

However, modern technology “inevitably” finds its way into direct import in these rural communities, whether it be a television hooked up to hazardous power or a cell phone passed amongst the people. Portable computers are beginning to be present. Internet connections are plausible. 20-year-olds who ten years ago couldn’t attend school are now graduating from high school and going on to college, where the technology needs and wants are not hard to imagine.

Assuming technology incursions are inevitable, are on the cusp of meaningfulness in rural Nicaragua, the questions become “How can technology be positive in these communities?” (money going to the cell phone providers is positive!?) and “How can we facilitate positive technology infusion?”.

Lots of small steps are being made. In days to come, there will be more to say about those steps.

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