The remote village of Unguia close to Colombia’s border with Panama has no permanent running water or electricity but it does have something that could potentially transform the lives of the villagers, internet.
There are only two daily boats to Turbo which has connections with the outside world. In Unguia the locals get by with farming, fishing, agriculture and forestry and gold mining. Life is a struggle for the local inhabitants. Sometimes blackouts last for ten days, luckily the new internet cafe has solar energy.
The small kiosk is one of the few connections to the outside world. The Vive Digital kiosks are an initiative of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications.
Opened in May last year, there are five computers with internet and two satellite phones. This jungle technology hub has enabled dozens of students to take virtual courses with the University of Antioquia and grant youngsters the opportunity for new futures.
The kiosk, however, is not just a simple internet room. Juan Arturo Gomez, who administers the Vive Digital Kiosk in Unguia, tells his story. “I am rehabilitated drug addict. I was a guy on the street, consumed by vice. When I was on edge I grabbed some books, a change of clothes and came to Unguia.”
The purifying power of nature rejuvenated Gomez and put him on a path to begin studies in Social Communication at 54 years of age. In 2013 he wrote to the Rotary Club of Uraba and arranged sponsorship for surgeries for sixteen people suffering from cleft lip and palate in the region.
In June of the same year Juan Arturo Gomez heard about Cordoba Jamerson, 24, who had stepped on a landmine and lost a leg.
“I contacted the Red Cross and sent him tickets and travel expenses to go to Medellin. The program Colombia Without Mines helped him receive a prosthesis,” he says.
Following this the kiosk became the link with Colombia Without Mines for northern Choco, a region hit by guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug traffickers, where the conflict is so entrenched that people have not seen a day without violence in the last three decades.
Gomez’s work in the area continues and for many involved they hope this is only the beginning of the inspirational story.