A new initiative in South Africa will provide health and education to remote rural areas using “smart villages.” These villages consist of shipping containers and high-tech trucks that have been outfitted with solar power, internet connections and computer terminals. The mobile nature of these facilities allows these much needed services to be transported to poor rural communities in need.
Running on solar power, mobile classrooms provide all students with internet access and their own computer. This gives children both the opportunity to learn how to utilize technology and unprecedented access to educational resources not otherwise available in their isolated communities.
According to Lefa Makgato, a former student at one of the digital villages, “where I come from, it’s a very disadvantaged area, where most of the children are not exposed to such technology. So being exposed to such technology helped me a lot in learning the basics about using a computer, which I did not have. I learned how to send e-mails, draft letters on a computer, and that’s how I actually applied for university. So that’s how it changed our lives and that’s how we benefited.”
Mobile medical centers use the same type of technology to provide patients with basic medical care that is largely lacking in these remote locations. Often without even the most basic of healthcare facilities, people living in rural communities of South Africa must walk long distances to get to the nearest medical clinic. Now, thanks to these “smart” facilities, many South Africans have gained easy access to dental services, eye-care, malaria testing, and other routine blood-work. These services are provided on-site by registered nurses trained in the use of these facilities and their technology. When necessary, they also have access to consultations with a doctor through video conferencing.
“Most people travel for miles to the clinics or looking for assistance, so basically once you bring a unit like this toward the rural people or the people who are in need, it would be very important to have it close-by” stated Nchaupe Mathosa, a member of an NGO partnering to provide mobile healthcare facilities.
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