In your travels, have you paused a few moments in one of the almost-countless resource-starved schools of our world?
If not, it's hard to imagine how difficult it is for a child to emerge from that well of poverty.
This summer's team of volunteers is bringing Looma a small step closer to opening a window of knowledge and hope for those schools and those children--as an interactive computer/projector used collaboratively by the entire classroom.
For six weeks the volunteers will
improve the flexibility and accuracy of Looma's wand-controlled 'user interface'
create a multi-level, interactive GIS map of Nepal to greatly expand students' knowledge
explore many options to improve the 'user interface' for the teachers and students
assemble a multi-element dictionary as a basis for reference, team games...
organize the data structure and game format for teaching vocabulary
develop the options and an example for annotating textbooks with e.g. tooltips, pop-ups, text-to-speech
further refine and expand the Looma software application
The original six Looma prototypes are being updated with a much faster Odroid computer, better power supply, simpler wand/camera (pixy-cam) interface, and greatly expanded supplementary 'content' (videos, photos, PDFs...).
Depending on conditions in Nepal (post earthquake) and elsewhere, some Looma will be deployed for further field trials.
The 38 WireBridges built in Nepal from 1998 through 2011 provided more than three million safe trips over its rivers for schoolchildren and adults. Given the pre-bridge statistics, the gifts that funded these bridges prevented a number of deaths, and of course made many lives better.
The WireBridge project is now coming to an end. The government has an ambitious program which has installed suspended bridges throughout the country, replacing the WireBridges and other cable crossings.
A few WireBridges--perhaps two or three--will continue to operate for a few years until they in turn are replaced by suspended bridges. We will refurbish each of these bridges with new parts, and at the same time train the local people to perform this 'upgrade'. One spare set of parts will be stored for them, giving them at least 3-4 years of service. They will also have the design and assembly drawings in the unlikely case that they want to order another set it the future.
We in VillageTech Solutions are now focusing on SafaPani—an affordable, effective, reliable way to get arsenic out of drinking water, and on Looma, an interactive A/V system for any school in the world (now posted on GlobalGiving).
On behalf of the many Nepalese children and parents, and our many volunteers who make this program successful, we wish to thank – and cheer – our supporters. Job well done!
If you like what we do, please join us at http://www.villagetechsolutions.org
In the previous Report, I described the challenge facing any of us who seek to help in developing countries by assisting the people to obtain needed hardware or infrastructure--with an emphasis on Nepal, home of the WireBridges.
Behind both the poverty and the difficulty the people face in maintaining 'things', especially things the community shares in common, very often lies the problem of trust. Or more specifically, the lack of trust.
An essential must-read for our volunteers in Nepal has been the book "Trust", by Francis Fukuyama. Nepal itself may never have been mentioned in this book. But the reasons for Nepal's poverty and on-going inability to have good governance are laid out clearly.
If a people lack trust--don't believe the rules of society are fair, don't believe that basically everyone will follow the rules, then they rarely will collaborate to solve problems that they share in common: water supply, sanitation, schools, contract enforcement, river crossings...
In March I shall be in Nepal for several weeks. I hope to meet with the few government individuals who have the authority to provide the funds to maintain the 31 WireBridges that you and many other individuals and governments built.
If the Government decision is positive then we shall ask our many friends to help fund the immediate rehabilitation of all the WireBridges, and the re-establishment of good service for the rural people.
If not, then our remaining funds that are tied to the WireBridges will be used to refurbish as many as possible--perhaps four or five--and our support for the WireBridge program will end.