CHICO, Calif. -- What does Chico, California have in common with the Darfur region of the Sudan in Africa? Quite a lot, it seems.
Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough recently met a local business owner who is using video technology to teach potentially life-saving skills to people in some of the poorest regions in the world.
Matt York said he often has moments of awe when he says to himself, ‘I can’t believe I get to be here.’
As the Executive Director of the non-profit organization, One Mobile Projector per Trainer; OMPT, for York that ‘here’ can mean India, various nations in Africa, the South Pacific and in some cases, countries many of us may have never heard of. York describes his work locations as ‘some of the poorest in the developed world.’
The business owner who started his career specializing in video, video production and now video education, says the work the OMPT organization conducts is described as consultants in behavior-changing communication.
In this case, that change starts from an office space in Chico, thanks to small bags full of video equipment.
York founded OMPT 12 years ago with a simple vision; to provide those working with non-governmental organizations, known as NGO’s as well as local governments, educational, medical and agricultural agencies, the tools to educate local populations to potentially life-saving behavior. All, via video.
York said examples include teaching farmers how to use soap to protect crops from disease and insects, urging expectant mothers to use birthing centers rather than midwives and explaining proper hygiene and human waste disposal in order to prevent illness.
York said his team provides the ingredients to help tell a story on video and then those videos are delivered using cordless technology to local populations. He said when one can share a video, positive behaviors can be illustrated without relying on written or spoken word, but rather ‘showing.’
Trainers on the ground in various locations are able to share the videos by using small, portable movie projectors. All the equipment; cameras, microphones, tripods, and speakers are lightweight. They are rechargeable via small solar panels. Energy can also come from using miniature ‘jumper cables’ hooked to motor scooter batteries (scooters are common modes of transportation in many developing regions).
York said his work is rewarding and he describes it as somewhat of a calling rather than a job.
He said it's great to serve people instead of chasing materialistic wealth and toys. He said during his travels, he sees things that no one should have to see, so with OMPT he is able to serve people who are truly in need.
The team recently returned from a training session that was to take place in Sudan, but conditions were too dangerous. They finished the training session in nearby Kenya.
The next shipment of equipment is currently being prepared to make its way to another region in need.