In the main headquarters lobby of the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., stands a wall bearing memorial plaques that honor fallen Americans who lost their lives while serving the American people abroad in foreign affairs. As of May 2021, there were 321 plaques with names going back to 1780.
Back in the early 2000s, WiRED’s Community Health Information Centers (CHICs) in Kenya were outfitted with desktop computers, CRT monitors (state of the art at the time) and an extensive collection of CD-ROMS stocked with health information. Initially, we offered information mostly about HIV/AIDS, which at the time was rampant throughout Africa and much of the world. It plagued men and women alike, and in countries throughout East Africa, it devastated entire villages, taking out large swaths of a community, leaving behind only the very young and the very old.
In 2001, WiRED received a developmental grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine if computers could deliver health information in low-resource Kenyan communities. While in the West we were slowly building computers into our daily routines, people in the needy countries we served had rarely seen one. NIH’s charge to WiRED was: Can computers teach people about HIV/AIDS and good health? Answering that became the focus of our early work in Kenya.
The room at the Al Kadhymia Teaching Hospital in Iraq had bars on the windows, lots of electrical outlets, and plenty of space to accommodate computers. I was traveling with an American computer technician and an Iraqi physician in May on a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of State to create medical-information centers at teaching hospitals and medical schools throughout the country. We were looking for places to install our equipment, and this room could have been the perfect spot.
From the moment Kenya gained independence in 1963, local and national leaders have envisioned a day when the country could finally eradicate poverty, ignorance, and disease. Leaders then and now realize that any real progress against any one of these three tightly interwoven challenges requires simultaneous progress in the other two areas as well.
In 1992, Aziz M. Mustafa began work as a general practitioner in Kosovo. Five years later, he was in residence in the ENT Department at the University Medical Center in Prishtina. He is currently completing final examinations in Austria after which time he will be a licensed ENT surgeon. Thanks to WiRED¹s work in Kosovo, Aziz has been on-line since February 2000, when he went to WiRED¹s Internet Center in Gjilan. Here¹s what he says about the importance access to the Internet has had on his medical career. “I was at the Center for one or two hours every day. The Internet was my way of gaining new knowledge. I have access to all the data I need about my professional and scientific education.” He goes on to say access to the Internet has radically changed the way he learns. “I learned more in this period of time on the Net than I did during the past three years of classical education.”
The municipality of Dragalic suffered massive destruction during the war from 1991 to 1995. Farms, housing, crop lands, equipment all were destroyed. To make matters even worse, the armies planted landmines throughout the area and even today, long after the fighting has ended, the deadly mines plague the population.
San Francisco, CA, November 18, 2000 – WiRED, an international organization dedicated to bringing the resources of the Internet to war-ravaged places like Kosovo, launched its innovative “Video Visit” program on Thursday, November 16. The project enables families of seriously ill children undergoing treatment in European hospitals to make “live” visits via Internet-linked video.
Vukovar, Croatia, July 27, 2002 – Vukovar, Croatia has taken another step in the reconstruction of their war-torn community with the dedication of a new Community Health Information Center. The Center, developed by World Internet Resources for Education and Development (WiRED) and funded by Medtronic Foundation will focus on daily life-style issues such as diet, nutrition and smoking-cessation.
The U.S. Department of State has established free computer centers at seven locations in war-ravaged Kosovo as part of its Kosovo Internet Access Initiative (KIAI). These centers are managed by the International Organization on Migration and operated with the help of a nonprofit foundation called WiRED (World Internet Resources for Education and Development). The aim is to help stabilize and revitalize communications between people in Kosovo and the outside world.