Located in northwestern Dominica with a population of almost 2,000 people, Wesley was destroyed following Hurricane Maria’s passage, leaving its inhabitants in a power blackout, without mobile network coverage or Internet connectivity.
Wesley hospital is the only health facility left in town. On the evening of Monday 2 October , the Emergency Telecommunication Cluster (ETC) through the work of its partners Ericson Response and the Government of Luxembourg – set up free Internet hotspots for the affected communities.
Since then, young boys and girls have been meeting up in the parking area of the health facility, to use Internet connectivity, free of charge.
For many, this was the first time connecting to the Internet since Hurricane Maria hit Wesley, destroying homes and infrastructure, leaving people without electricity, water, food and means of communications.
Gabriele Thomas, 21, is from Wesley. He came to the clinic with his friend and found that he could access the Internet. As soon as he connected to the network, he spoke to his parents for the first time after the hurricane: “It was very emotional. They were very worried about me”.
“The minute I could access Internet, I received some 1,000 messages on my phone. My family is in Roseau and I had not been in contact with them for the past ten days. When I called my mum, she started crying. She thought I had been taken by the waves.” 18-year-old Lenitar said.
Joshua is a 14-year-old student. His school was destroyed by the hurricane. Now he does not have classes and his days are free. He charges his phone and comes to the health facility to connect to the Internet. He says he uses the Internet for all sort of things including watching YouTube videos on technology to further his interests and skills.
In line with the ETC2020 strategy, the ETC and its partners, are providing connectivity and access to information for affected communities of Dominica.
Story: Phyza Jameel, ETC Services for Communities (S4C) Adviser
Photos: WFP / Phyza Jameel & Angel Buitrago