How Free and Open Source Software is helping remote communities in Venezuela

Ana María Morillo is from a small rural community, called Cambalache, in the south east region of Venezuela. This community is not far from Puerto Ordaz one of the richest cities in the Country. In contrast, Cambalache is a poor community. More than 80% of people in Cambalache never had access to a computer. This is changing thanks to CVG Telecom, a group of hardworking volunteers, and the use of Free and Open Source Software. CVG Telecom, with the help of the community, built a centre of informatics and telecommunications that is run by volunteers in the community.

Building the Centre of Informatics and TelecommunicationsThanks to the use of Free and Open Source software and the work of the volunteers, they are able to offer their services for free. So people can learn how to use a computer, access the Internet, write documents, etc. The centre serves more than 100 persons daily.

They are facing challenges but they are managing them. For instance, some people, in Cambalache, receive training through Video-conference. Most of this training is in the use of Proprietary Software. When they get to the Informatics and Telecommunications centre, they say: this software is wrong!!!

One of such persons told Ana: "I do not understand this software, it does not work!" Ana replied: "it does work! Remember when you were sick with fever. You went to the Doctor and he prescribed you Tylenol. You decided to take generic Acetaminophen, instead. It is the same, if you take Tylenol or Acetaminophen, the two of them will fight the fever." Then Ana taught him how to use the Free and Open Source Software they had installed.

As Ana said: "if that [Free and Open Source Software] is what is going to give us sovereignty and independence that is what we are going to defend."

Lino

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