the VOA Special English Development Report.
nonprofit group in San Francisco, California, is trying to take bicycle-powered
computers to rural villages around the world. The computer was developed with
villagers in Laos.
group is the Jhai Foundation. Jhai, j-h-a-i, is a word in the Lao language that
means "hearts and minds working together."
Thorn is the chairman. He says there are tens of thousands of dead computers in
rural villages. He says villages often receive computers that they do not know
how to use or how to keep working.
Thorn worked with another Lee -- Lee Felsenstein, an early developer of
personal computers. The result is the Jhai PC. The small computer costs about
two hundred dollars. It does not use much electricity. The battery that powers
it is recharged when a person pedals a bicycle.
devices called flash drives are connected to the computer to hold information.
The Jhai PC has a steel cover designed to resist water and weather. The
foundation says the computer is built to work for ten years.
addition to Laos, the group is in contact with villages in Vietnam, India, Ghana and other countries.
foundation offers to help villagers learn to make the computers themselves with
local materials. The group looks for a business person in each village who will
create a ten-year business plan. The plan must include hiring people in the
village. It also must include maintaining the computers and paying for
electricity and a connection to the Internet.
Foundation provides business and computer training. It also provides classes
for teachers on ways to use computers in school. The group has received awards
from the United Nations.
group also works with villagers on other ways to improve their lives. Fifty-one
villages in Laos are in a coffee farmers cooperative. The foundation is helping
the farmers sell their coffee in the United States.
Thorn started the foundation ten years ago after visiting Laos to begin a
process of reconciliation. He calls it the opposite of war. He was in the
United States Navy during the Vietnam war. On an aircraft carrier he loaded
planes with bombs to drop on neighboring Laos. Later he and Lee Felsenstein
were active in the antiwar movement.
that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Karen Leggett.