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  • 11

  • $ 371

    pledged of $ 3,500 goal
  • 3871

    days ago
  • Campaign Ended!

    This project was expired.

  • This project was expired on 2013-05-01

About our project

All Donations will be to the A Human Right, Inc., a 501c3 non profit that is dedicated to bringing electricity to people around the world.

Many Indigenous Ngobe Panamanians have little or no access to health services and therefore lack help in the case of a medical emergency or the resources to coordinate preventive care such as pap smears or STD checks.

Hardly any of their Comarca (reserve lands; see map below) has access to cell coverage, leaving them terribly isolated and cut off from resources available to other communities in Panama.

Emergently will provide free cell and data service to over 700 Ngobe indigenous communities [over 250 on the bahia azul peninsula alone]. Information and Connectivity is power.

My Story

I’m Alex Blum, the founder of the 00-O Benefit Corporation, and a Peace Corps vet who spent two years living and working with the Ngobe people. While there, I cultivated deep relationships with members of the Ngobe tribe, resulting in mutual trust and respect.

In 2012, I introduced the Floating Doctors to my community. They are a US-based non-profit medical mission team using ships and small craft to deliver mobile medical services, medical volunteers, and emergency response to remote communities throughout the archipelago. They have been working in over 35 key communities (and counting) over the past 2 years, traveling over 9,000 miles by small open boats into the archipelago and by pack horse into the mountains, to reach hard-to-access communities.

They are partnered with the Ministries of Health for the Comarca and Bocas del Toro and are committed to a permanent presence in the region, having begun seeking funding to open a permanent clinic to serve as a base of operations in Panama.

I facilitated an ongoing partnership and connectivity—in those days, sometimes requiring an all-day hike up a muddy mountain to deliver a question and bring back an answer from some remote communities—between Floating Doctors and several locations in the mountains, many of which had never experienced modern health care and were found to have a number of serious health issues such as IB and machete accidents.

Seeing how effective even this ungainly communication system was at helping get urgent medical issues seen in a timely fashion, and to coordinate community visits to do preventive medicine and pre-natal ultrasound and de-worming programs, I became determined to help the Ngobe gain access to the incredible power that flows from connection to a cell and data network.

With my unique perspective on Ngobe life and my understanding of the operating environment, Emergently and our partners have developed a plan to resolve the isolation of the Ngobe and bring them into contact with each other and with resources, starting with medical care but ultimately including education, cultural communication among the Ngabe and with others, and the ability to have a voice in the world as their culture and heritage comes under increasing pressures.

The system I created, along with a patent pending technology to bring cell service and power to key location points within the Ngobe territory, will ensure sustainable access to care. And, better still, this technology is highly scalable, minimizing the barriers to accessing care that many rural, coastal populations face worldwide.

About 80% of the earth’s population lives within five miles of the coast, often with great sites for strategic installation of equipment for widespread data service. This model will ultimately be readily adaptable to many other developing regions worldwide.

Maria and her Saviors: The Floating Doctors

Eleven-year old Maria Caballero suffered a severe puncture wound after she tripped on a wooden step that lead into her home, a leaf-roof hut. The 3cm wound, deep enough to reach the bone, became infected and compromised her ability to walk. The threat of amputation or, worse, death, loomed heavily over the child and her family.

In response to an earlier request from the community for a visit, the Floating Doctors arrived almost serendipitously as the infection flared and started to eat a deep crater into her leg, which swelled and turned red from toe to thigh.

Their timely arrival with the proper tools and medicine allowed them to successfully treat Maria’s injury, allowing her to regain her mobility and prevent life-threatening sepsis. Two weeks of antibiotics and wound care by her parents, who had been taught to provide the appropriate care and had been given the supplies to clean and bandage her leg, cured her, allowing her to shyly walk up to and meet the doctors on their next visit.

Unfortunately, many indigenous Ngobe don’t have Maria’s luck and suffer severe consequences from highly treatable health issues.

Emergently – Enabling Populations to Connect to the World

Emergently exists at the nexus between rural populations without regular access to healthcare services and medical providers who are able to travel, treating the various maladies that sometimes prove fatal without appropriate care.

Emergently has created a technology and system that goes a step further in bringing healthcare to rural areas.

The Barriers to Care:

Three primary causes exist as barriers to the Ngobe’s access to, and utilization of, healthcare resources:

1. Geographical: Inadequate Transportation & Communications Infrastructure

2. Language & Cultural Barriers: Poverty, Poor Education, Social Disenfranchisement, Mistrust of Outsiders

3. Inadequate Health Resources: A medical service such as the Floating Doctors is needed to augment existing health infrastructure by provide ongoing coverage and connection with existing services.

The Solution: A BGAN Network

Together, the Ngobe leadership and The 00-O Benefit Corporation have created a multi-pronged and effective solution.

First is the installation of our Broadband Global Access Network (a network of solar panel-powered, light, charging, and phone service capabilities technologies) at 5 strategic locations throughout the Kusapin Peninsula in Northwestern Panama. These locations will enable about 25,000 Ngobes to be within 20 minutes of phone/internet access. For more information on the BGAN technology and implementation plan, see below.

Next, we will train community members how to use the smartphone technology and create a contact protocol for community members to contact Floating Doctors for medical issues. Key individuals in the communities will also receive ongoing instruction in basic assessment and diagnostics, and can serve as first responders who can summon transport and additional care from Floating Doctors.

Floating Doctors will monitor incoming communications and respond/advise accordingly. By teaching online videoconferencing, we will allow patients and first responders to consult face-to-face and show wounds and skin lesions for remote medical consults.

Emergently will then accompany Floating Doctors teams on their regular rounds to the communities where systems are installed, in order to reinforce training and receive feedback from the community to identify opportunities for site-specific improvements.

Within weeks of installation, entire communities will have access to ongoing healthcare professional advice and response and all the other life-changing resources that a people can access if only they are given a voice.

It is due to our unique personal history of interaction with the Ngobe that we can both ensure that such a technology will be a positive development for the Ngobe, and that the logistics of installation and appropriate training and support will be practical and achievable. We have developed this plan in conjunction with the Ngobe community leaders. Our solution will enable the Ngobe to become advocates of their own welfare.

All about our BGAN Technology

Each BGAN unit will contain a solar panel, two batteries to hold the energy produced, a light, a cell-phone service repeater, a charging strip, and two smart phones. The solar panel brings in the energy to power the other components. The service repeater amplifies the bit of a signal already in the area and makes it functional. From there, the phones call out to the doctors and resources and human services
flow into the community.

Due diligence has been conducted on a variety of these components, and the system selected for this working environment can be obtained locally in Panama for the low cost of $3,500 per unit.

We will work with Ngobe community members to install them and then conduct regular training, service, and optimization as described above. Ngobe can then call and receive help when a medical emergency occurs or to request and coordinate a clinical deployment to their community. They can also use the new connectivity for all the other benefits that phone and internet access entails.

Evidence that Such Interventions Work:

Myriad peer-reviewed medical research studies point to a multitude of benefits mobile phones bring to rural communities.

Joses Kirigia of the World Health Organization and his research team found that access to health care is drastically improved, particularly for people living in remote locations, when electronic health services are both available and utilized.

Similarly, Dr. Jody Lori of the University of Michigan School of Nursing concluded that mobile technologies have tremendous potential positive impact related to healthcare and public health issues in low-resource areas of the world.

Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health, in conjunction with the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, has awarded at least 150 grants for mobile phone related health research projects. This demonstrates- a substantial investment in, commitment to, and belief in the value of improved health outcomes likely to emerge from the mobile health field.

The prevalence of cell phones alone, however, do not solve every healthcare hurdle that arises in a community. The infrastructure must exist to support the technology, the community must buy-in and adapt or expand their use of this tool, and medical professionals must have the resources to adequately treat emergencies they are alerted to.

A library full of medical studies builds a strong case for the importance of implementing an emergency response system but fails to convey the meaningful personal connections and experiences driving the passion behind this initiative.

About our 00-O Benefit Corporation

The 00-O Benefit Corporation intends to end poverty, provide economic opportunity, and extend internet access to every human on earth. We solve three ineffecient features of our present-day world by:

1) Providing information and opportunity resources to rural locations and individuals at the “base of the pyramid.”
2) Sharing knowledge from disparate and disconnected sources.
3) Transforming complex data into intuitively understood and applied information.

To learn more about us, please visit our website.

The 00-O and Floating Doctors Partnership

The Floating Doctors are a non-profit, international medical team with a unique model for bringing sustainable mobile clinics to coastal communities.

Few people know that 80% of the world’s population lives within five miles of the coast. The Floating Doctors can serve this population because their ships and personnel bring care to even the most remote jungle or island community. Their mobility allows them to respond rapidly to regional health needs as they did in Haiti after the earthquake and cholera epidemic, using their ships as support platforms to transport and house personnel and supplies, and from which to launch clinical deployments by small craft and on foot.

When not responding to an emergency or on a clinical deployment, the Floating Doctors remain docked in a central location and engage in public health projects and community education and training. At present, they have served the Ngobe population for nearly two years on an ongoing basis. By educating local leadership, making regular scheduled visits to key communities, and establishing a land-based clinic center, the doctors are producing a sustainable system for delivering health services.

Their reliable follow-up visits, collaboration with Ngobe leadership, and the basic respect they give to their patients has led to a strong relationship and trust between their team and the local population. The Ngobe Government has voted and officially approved of The Floating Doctors work in the region. Alex translated for the FD for the two years he served in The Peace Corps. Upon finishing his service, he became a member of the board of directors. This close collaboration with Ngobe leaders was what led to the idea of developing an improved emergency responder system. The FD have maintained and collected a robust archive of data and research pertaining to health care on the Ngobe, something we are offering as a reward for backing us.

The Floating Doctors will use the BGAN platform and resultant expanded phone service range to respond to medical emergencies, dispatch staff to the emergency location, and provide first-responder guidance as help arrives. Over time, the data logged will allow the doctors to strategically position their staff in order to reduce response times for the patients they serve, saving time, money, and lives.

For more information on the Floating Doctors, please visit their website.

Our Goal:

Our ultimate goal is to open up the Ngobe region and people to the resources and opportunities that accompany cellular and internet connectivity. The possibilities are endless from micro-loans to job and educational opportunities. What if business contacts seek out artisans for their crafts? What if the Ngobe can develop a chocolate company using the cacao that currently rots on the tree?

Access to healthcare is just the beginning of the possibilities the Ngobe can benefit from. Once the pilot succeeds and the accompanying software shows potential, this model can spread with incredible speed.

Emergently supports and implements Sugata Mitra’s (Winner of the 2013 TED Prize) ‘Self Organized Learning Environments’ Model. To learn more about his model, see his speech delivered on February 26th, 2013 here.

Your Contributions:

Your contributions will help cover the purchase of 5 BGAN units ($17,500) and the logistical costs such as training, installation, and maintenance (about $10,000). The money will also allow us to pay a community leader to maintain and optimize functionality.

If we are able to raise over the requested amount, we would use the funds for Phase 2- expanding the number of units and range of services and for a quicker integration and production of 00-O Technology to be used in conjunction with the several major partnership opportunities we’ve established.

Connect With Us



For $ 1 or more

0 Supporter(s)

Our sincere gratitude.

For $ 5 or more

0 Supporter(s)

We'll list your name as a Supporter on our 00-O website.

For $ 10 or more

2 Supporter(s)

A Ngobe keychain "chakara" bag. Chakara bags are organic, made from plant leaves and traditional dyes and are reusable. See our project for photos.

For $ 25 or more

0 Supporter(s)

A keychain "chakara" bag and a Panama postcard of Ngobe Artisans with a thank you message, signed by the 00-O founder, Alex Blum!

For $ 40 or more

1 Supporter(s)

The stylish (black or white) T-Shirt with Ngobe printed designs on the front and indigenous text on the back.

For $ 55 or more

1 Supporter(s)

Large sized Chakara, a Ngobe Artisan organic bag made from plants and traditional dyes. Great as a reusable shopping bag, yoga bag or purse! See photo to the left.

For $ 75 or more

0 Supporter(s)

An original 8x10 print of the Ngobe people or area to be hung on your office wall or at home! A great reminder of your contribution and who it will be helping.

For $ 100 or more

2 Supporter(s)

A T-shirt and large sized Chakara bag or a Chakara bag (L) and photo print, PLUS two pounds or organic Ngobe chocolate.

For $ 250 or more

0 Supporter(s)

The above (2 pounds of organic Ngobe choocolate, a T-Shirt and a large Chakara bag), PLUS 3 sets of scrubs with Ngobe Insignia and patterns.

For $ 500 or more

0 Supporter(s)

The above (2 pounds of organic Ngobe choocolate, a T-Shirt, a large Chakara bag & 3 sets of scrubs), PLUS a framed 12x14 inch photo of Ngobe scenery, with personalized Thank You note signed on the matting. If you wish, we can arrange for he Ngobe chief to sign your matting... OR Your Company name included in our Corporate Sponsors List.

For $ 1000 or more

0 Supporter(s)

PROJECT SPONSOR: Your company name and logo on the 00-O website's Project Page and on any informational or promotional materials produced for any type of distribution.

For $ 1500 or more

0 Supporter(s)

CORPORATE SPONSOR: The above, PLUS your company's logo on the Homepage and Project Page of the 00-O website (and the Floating Doctors website), a week stay with Floating Doctors and the opportunity to write a blog post for the 00-O website on theme of development or something relevant.

For $ 2500 or more

0 Supporter(s)

CORPORATE PARTNER: Your company's logo or YOUR name added onto 00-O’s solar-powered BGAN units (as described in the text and video). This installation will bring in an exponential amount of resources to the indigenous Ngobe tribe, and to rural populations around the world. The applications are endless -- healthcare, development opportunities, education, information, etc!

For $ 3500 or more

0 Supporter(s) Limited (6 left of 6 )

DATA PARTNER: The above (Your logo on our BGAN units and the 00-O homepage & project page), PLUS access to Floating Doctors medical data. Also, embed our project information on your website!

For $ 6000 or more

0 Supporter(s) Limited (1 left of 1 )

EXCLUSIVE DATA PARTNER: Exclusive access to the data collected by both the Floating Doctors team for one year as well as 50 hours of Alex Blum's time for consultations, presentations, etc!

For $ 10000 or more

0 Supporter(s) Limited (1 left of 1 )

VIDEO/PROMOTION PARTNER: A customized promotional Video (see: as an example) and the EXCLUSIVE rights to embedding our project and featuring our partnership on your website.

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