It was March and the temperatures in Senegal hovered around 120 degrees. Dr. Mitch Hamilton, Pastor of the Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church in Aurora, CO., braved the heat along with his team. They were in Senegal’s Ferlo region, researching the culture and the people.
West Africans are known for their hospitality. It was not long before a shepherd invited the pastor’s group to his “windy” (temporary village) a few kilometers out in the bush.
The village was primitive, no water, electricity or permanent structures. Many of the children had never seen a “toubob” (Westerner). The village elder told Pastor Hamilton that those who had seen “toubobs” before were often afraid because the tourists took so many pictures.
“I shared that American culture was a visual culture,” Pastor Hamilton said. “We learn through pictures, videos, television, etc. The elder shared that in his culture, they learn through oral stories.”
As they continued to talk, the elder started to understand why “toubobs” took so many pictures. Dr. Hamilton explained that photographs are a way of communicating special experiences, like a trip to Africa.
To demonstrate the way Westerners communicate with images, Dr. Hamilton asked if the elder and his village would like to see a video documenting a previous group’s visit to the region. The elder agreed and invited Pastor Hamilton to return that evening after dusk.
But how do you show a film to a West African village with no electricity?
Laptops can’t withstand the desert’s heat and dust. Small DVD players could only be watched by a few at a time.
Fortunately, Dr. Hamilton had discovered the Optoma PK102 Pico Pocket Projector a few months before visiting the Ferlo. He asked Ron Schall, AVI-SPL Denver for help finding one to bring along.
“I was intrigued and immediately thought of our upcoming trip to West Africa. The size and apparent durability of the projector seemed to be a perfect match,” Pastor Hamilton said.
That night, Pastor Hamilton and his crew returned to the village after sunset. They draped a sheet over the door of a grass hut, powered up the Optoma PK102 and showed the video to the villagers. External speakers provided the sound.
“It was a big deal and the entire village turned out,” Pastor Hamilton recalled. “Everything worked great and the folks were fascinated. I don’t think that they were shocked by the technology, but it was certainly new to them.”
At 11 lumens, the PK102 easily overpowered the fire in the center of the village’s compound, the only ambient light.
“This kind of technology is absolutely revolutionary to our efforts around the world,” Pastor Hamilton said. “If these things can handle the beating they will take in deserts and jungles of third world countries, they will become invaluable to those in the field.”
Pastor Hamilton is working to get more Pico Projectors for his teams working throughout Africa and Central America.