One thing you quickly learn when you arrive in Kibuye is that your weird, quirky, or sometimes esoteric interests might serve a real and tangible need. For me, I've always been a technology enthusiast and something of a computer nerd. In the days since Eric wrote about how internet is the hardest part of his job, the ever talented George Watts took the helm of managing the team connection. When we arrived and settled in back in January 2020 that torch was passed onto me.
The interesting thing about our connection at Kibuye is that while you might be tempted to think of it as hooking up the wifi in your home it's much more like running a small internet service provider, you know minus the staff, billing services, or technical support... And with that I'd like to officially christen
KNIT SP - Kibuye Neighborhood Internet and Technology Service Provider : where we weave communication into the fabric of your daily life. (An unofficial sub-company of Serge)
But to show you what I mean take a look at our network diagram as it currently stands:
For orientation that little cloud in the top left is the internet which then comes into our router and winds up being distributed from there through a series of wired and wireless connections to the homes around our compound. Getting to this point has been quite the journey.
The first big batch of equipment arrived back in January 2021. With that, the intrepid Watts family helped move our main distribution antenna into the belfry of Kibuye Hope Academy.
The fisheye lens may exaggerate the height a little bit, but that's really high, and that pole/antenna is not light!
Once the main distribution antenna was up, some 3d printed brackets for the receivers to be mounted to everyone's homes allowed us to get the best possible signal and we gradually transitioned everyone over from the hodgepodge of connections to a central wireless distribution point. But rather than just give every home their own wifi, all of the wifi points across the compound are interconnected and make up one large network. Now we can roam from home to home and even a few places outside without ever losing connection or having to enter different passwords along the way.
Being an ISP means dealing with outages... Including discovering this while investigating a post storm outage:
A falling branch had severed the fiberoptic line going to our little network rack. Fortunately Lumitel was incredibly responsive. After sending the above photos to the Lumitel Whatsapp help group around 7pm they sent a two man repair team the next day and less than 24hrs later our connection was back up and running.
While one man was responsible for splicing the cable another gentlemen climbed straight up the eucalyptus tree to drape the new line through our all natural telephone poles. (Side note, that little machine is so cool! It perfectly lines up the two tiny fibers of glass and then melts
them together to make a single contiguous fiber!) The two bottles in the background were actually used to protect the freshly spliced cable.
Our network rack has also undergone an upgrade, complete with kitenge dust covers and it now houses enough battery power to keep the signal up and running through most of an overnight power outage.
So while my day job is still going up to the hospital to take care of surgical patients, God has seen fit to use some of the other talents and interests He gave me in the service of the work He's accomplishing here in Kibuye.
And to finish up here's a preview of the next big IT project, setting up the hospital network as foundational work for the digitalization of patient care: turns out the electronic health record haunts you no matter where you go!