|Front view of old library before internet center started|
|Old library collection of books before internet center started|
|Inside old library, back wall before cleanup|
|Inside view of side door of old library before cleanup|
|Inside view of front door of old library before cleanup|
The next step was to make sure everything worked together, and open the center. Although this doesn't sound tremendously complicated, consider that this internet center was being opened in a village that doesn't even have electricity, so very few people have any computer experience, or experience in running this type of business, which, although it is a service for the village, still needs to be run like a business to make enough money each month to pay Hughesnet and do maintenance. And, because of how long it had taken to get all the pieces put together, the opening wasn't happening until summer when the kids were out of school, and students were supposed to be the major customers. Tom went to lots of meetings to figure out how to manage and staff the center, mostly because he has the experience to help get this sort of effort up and running, but also because the Hughesnet monthly bill has to be paid with a US credit card...which we have, unlike the Belizean citizens of the village, so it behooved us to make sure the center at least made enough money to pay the monthly bill.
|Inside El Progresso Internet Center|
While I would like to say that the internet center opened and the villagers flocked in to use it, that hasn't been the case. The people who are using it love it, and it is giving villagers who didn't have access to computers an opportunity to use and learn about computers and the internet. When school started again in September, students found it useful. However, it has been difficult to find enough qualified people willing to staff it, so opening hours have been limited, and many villagers gave up trying to figure out when it was open and when it was closed, and didn't even try to go. Then something happened with the electrical system and blew out the inverter, and it took time to get that fixed, and whatever momentum it had thudded to a stop. We're now in the middle of the Christmas holiday break for students, so they don't need it for their schoolwork, so it is getting very little use. The monthly bill is still being paid from village funds, but neither the village nor we have unlimited funds to continue to pay for something that isn't being used, so at this point it's possible that it will just be shut down if business doesn't pick up when the students are back in school.
|Front view of El Progresso Internet Center|