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Making connections - Cooperation that changes lives

Living in the Maluku Islands on the Eastern edge of Indonesia is a tough assignment.  Caring for several hundred patients a week, running a tuberculosis and leprosy clinic and looking after HIV/AIDS patients and severe burns victims, brings challenges that most Australians could not even imagine.

Peter Scarborough, formerly an accountant with Saward Dawson, and his wife Esther have lived on the remote island of Halmahera, Eastern Indonesia for eight years. They oversee and manage a bush hospital, the Hohidiai Clinic, training a team of local staff who will continue this valuable work well into the future. (Read our article on the work Peter and Esther are doing.) Their isolation from the rest of the world is highlighted by the fact that email is a luxury, especially when you have to generate your own power and there are no local telephones! Until recently, emails for Peter and Esther were restricted to a brief paragraph with no attachments or photos possible, sent over a dial up network that only worked occasionally.

Getting connected

In October 2009 Richard Beaumont, Entrust Foundation CEO and Saward Dawson client was able to visit the hospital and saw the reality of living with very basic conditions. (Saward Dawson and Entrust, together with World Vision, have previously worked together on our Cambodian Economic Development Project.) Richard quickly recognised that there was a desperate need for better communication with the outside world.  “I knew better connection to the outside world would help on many fronts, enabling them to more easily do an already difficult job.”

Cliff Dawson of Saward Dawson saw the possibilities. He introduced Richard to Rob van der End, CEO of another Saward Dawson client, Clear Networks, an expert in remote communications  using satellite and wireless technology.  Richard asked Rob if he could help in Indonesia. Entrust offered to fund the equipment and Rob gave extensively of his time and expertise. 

Clear Network’s expertise was driven by Rob’s determination and perseverance to deliver the technology, “in spite of a very compromised customs and shipping process in a remote corner of the planet!” says Richard.

Turning dreams into reality

The Hohidiai Clinic is experiencing a new lease of life and access to expertise they could have only dreamed about 12 months ago. Peter Scarborough in Indonesia is excited about the practical applications of the satellite communication network. “The connection has made our work so much more efficient. We are able to communicate with our support base in Manado more often, we can Skype our USA and Australian representatives. The internet enables research, internet banking and VOIP (telephone over the internet). We can keep in touch with family in Victoria.”

“It has opened up internet access and emailing for staff members, international visitors and short term workers. It has revolutionised home schooling for our children; instead of travelling an hour each way to an internet cafe that does not always work, the children now have wireless connection at their fingertips!”

Saving lives

However, the most transforming change is seen by the emergency clinic. They are now able to send photos of patients to doctors in Australia and USA for online consultations. For patients with severe, disfiguring burns, international specialist help is available once they are received into the clinic. Doctors have now requested video of patients being sent over the satellite link so that the most effective treatment can be discussed live with Australian and USA specialists. Peter says, “All in all, it is an amazing advancement and huge help to us.”

The direct result of this multi-connection between Saward Dawson’s clients and friends is that Peter, Esther and their team are now far better equipped to help the many patients that need daily care.

Rob at Clear Networks continues to help clients with difficult communication issues around the world.  Entrust Foundation keeps on finding high impact, grass roots projects in the developing world, making connections with donors for funding.

The Hohidiai clinic is now connected to the outside world and patients are treated more effectively.  An amazing outcome for a clever client, a satellite connection and a wise donation!

Check out Entrust at www.entrust.org.au if you would like to be connected to the right donor and partnership opportunity. Also see Clear Networks at www.clearnetworks.com.au to learn more about their range of wireless and satellite communications. 

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