Problem: Ilha de Maré, in Bahia, an island occupied by nine communities of quilombolas (descendants of Afro-Brazilian slaves who escaped from slave plantations that existed in Brazil until abolition in 1888) with a population of around five thousand, has a lack of infrastructure which results in limited access to the internet in the communities. A project run by a partnership between the Instituto de Mídia Étnica - IME (Ethnic Media Institute) and the Center for Civic Media of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), introduced the Vojo technology on the island in August, 2013.
Solutions: The tool uses Voice over IP (VOIP) that memorizes the human voice on a database on the internet by means of mobile or public telephones in order to make transmission of information by audio possible free of charge, without the need for computers or the internet. Twenty youngsters from the quilombo communities of the island, such as Bananeiras, Martelo, Porto dos Cavalos, Maracanã and Praia Grande, participated in a workshop to learn how to use the technology in 2013. During the meetings, they learnt how to record interviews on mobile phones and to transmit information about their culture and the problems in their communities. Topics such as human rights, black identity, democratization of communication, sexual and gender rights and reproduction were discussed with the youngsters.
Outcomes: The students felt empowered and began to disseminate information about their day-to-day lives, to talk about local culture and question the difficulties they face, such as the lack of public transport to go to school. Resulting from this, they succeeded in getting the municipal administration to resolve such problems. An increase in self-esteem was also perceived among the students. The first users of the technology taught their colleagues and today the tool is used by more people in the community. The IME intends to take the technology to other regions with underprivileged communities and settlements in Brazil, with the use of a 0800 (prefix for free calls) number.