Africa SOMA Inc.

Africa SOMA sees education as a central tool in improving the lives of all people. In Kenya, progress has been made in expanding access to education, however large hurdles remain: quality is often low, secondary schools are prohibitively expensive, and often the most vulnerable groups, such as Maasai pastoralists, continue to be unable to access even primary education. Improving participation in schooling requires creative solutions that lower barriers to entry and improve the learning environment. Our programs aspire to contribute to such creative solutions. We work in partnership with local organizations and community members and promote community investment and involvement in all of our p...
Feb 6, 2013

Computer Lab is Now Open!

Issac teaching community members computer basics
Issac teaching community members computer basics

Africa SOMA is pleased to announce that the Elangata Wuas Library and Resource Center's Computer Lab is now open! The computer lab officially opened and Issac Leken Kakeni, our Computer Lab Manager has begun teaching computer classes to students and community members! 

Both Elangata Wuas Primary School and Good Shepard Primary School have begun sending students to the library for basic computer classes offered by Issac. These classes teach the fundamentals of computer use; how to use they keyboard and mouse, typing basics, internet browsing and how to use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. The local primary students are really enjoying these courses and are excited to be introduced to the limitless world of the internet now available to them.

Secondary students from Elangata Wuas have also been making use of the computer lab. While some of the youth who have been able to attend secondary school have been introduced to computers, many are itching to further their computer knowledge and skills. Over the Christmas holidays seven of the local secondary students took an advanced computer course offered by Issac where programs and computer workings were gone over in more detail. Issac is planning to offer a certificate of acheivement to students who pass a specific number of advanced classes. This will give computer students some proof of their newly acquired skills, increasing their employability in a competitive job market eager to hire those with computer proficiency. 

The computer lab's printer has also become a popular service among community members. Prior to the opening of the computer lab residents and buisness owners had to travel 1 hour by bus to Kajiado in order to print, scan or photocopy important documents. With the computer lab now offering basic printing and scanning services community members no longer have to pay to travel to Kajiado to have something printed. Roughly four to five people every week are using the printing service, providing income to help support the computer lab into the future. 

While the computer lab has just opened we are still in need of, and appreciate, your continued support. Issac would like to offer more computer classes at a reduced cost to community members so they can learn computer basics enough to operate a computer on their own. The computer lab is also still in need of small things such as headphones, mice, external hardrives, and printer ink and larger items like furniture. We must also continue to cover Issac's wage until the computer lab is self sufficient. 

As one of the lab's users put told us, "The library's computer lab is an interesting initiative, of great help in order to get new skills and be competitive in a changing world." On behalf of all the community members of Elangata Wuas and Africa SOMA we would like to thank you for your support with this project. Please consider spreading the news of our project to friends and family and, as always, feel free to email us (info@africasoma.org) with any questions or comments you might have. Please feel free to check out our newly updated website, www.africasoma.org, for more information and pictures.

Ashe Oleng (Thank you  in Kimaasai) from Africa SOMA and all the new computer students in Elangata Wuas

Links:

Dec 20, 2012

Africa SOMA Scholarship Winners: Where are they now?

While Africa SOMA fundraises to provide high school scholarships for the 2013 primary graduates of Elangata Wuas Kenya, we thought we’d take the time to check in and provide updates on a few of our previous scholarship winners.

Matampash, one of our 2005 scholarship recipients graduated in 2009 and is currently attending Moi University, studying Analytical Chemistry and Computing. Without Africa SOMA’s scholarship he doubts he would have been able to attend secondary school as finances were tight. “I worked hard” he says of his time at high school, where he participated in many math contests. It was during his high school education that he realized his passion for science “I was good in Chemistry at my school and it was my best subject”. But Matampash isn’t one to only reminisce about the past; “I would like to do a Masters and a PhD if possible. I would like to be someone in the community”.

Gladys, a 2009 scholarship recipient will be graduating this year. “The scholarship helped me to motivate my education” Gladys says. And her education hasn’t only motivated her; “Most girls in the community don’t go to secondary school because they drop [out] in primary. They see me as an important person who can help them... I’ll be a role model to their children by having got an education, so that will motivate many girls to work hard in their education and also try their best to get the scholarship.” And she’s not only planning to be a role model in her community – she plans to become a doctor, a doctor that remains invested in pastoralism. “It [pastoralism] will help me because if I need something, I’ll sell my cattle. I want to work and continue with pastoralism.”

Eunice, a 2009 scholarship winner is currently in accounting college and is hoping to find a job near Elangata Wuas when she graduates. “Without the scholarship I would not have been able to afford high school” she says. Monica, another 2009 recipient, agrees “When I finished my primary education there was much drought, so my parents were not able to pay for me to go to secondary school. When I got my scholarship I was able to go”.

School has also provided the students, who grew up in predominately Maasai community, the opportunity to integrate with other students. “I like this.” says Monica “I can learn about their culture, how they live at home and perform their duties. I also share things about Maasai culture.”  Gladys agrees “Now I know how to interact with them (Muslim students). Socially, I like it.”

While all our scholarship winners had much to say about their educational experiences, Gladys eloquent statement sums up why Africa SOMA continues to provide scholarships year after year: “Education is empowerment”

Nov 7, 2012

Computer Lab Update: Almost there!

An intern giving an impromptu lesson on her laptop
An intern giving an impromptu lesson on her laptop

It is with your help that Africa SOMA continues to move ever closer to opening the computer lab in the Elangata Wuas Resource Centre. We hope to be writing to you about the lab's grand opening in our next newsletter! Community members in Elangata Wuas are very excited to gain access to all the opportunities that basic computer skills and internet access make available to rural residents. Recently a Elangata Wuas community member expressed his gratitude for Africa SOMA's work on our Facebook wall. While visiting a internet cafe in Nairobi he wrote, "You've positively changed lives of thousands of families in E-Wuas. Thank and may God bless always."

As mentioned in our last newsletter, the community based organization which runs the resource center has hired Isaac Leken Kakeni to be the Elangata Wuas Resource Centre Computer Lab Manager. He continues to settle into the position and is providing many innovative ideas on how to make the lab most useful to the community. Additionally Jeremiah, our newest librarian, brings excellent accounting skills to the Resource Centre's team which have been useful as we budget to determine the ongoing needs of the computer lab. Africa SOMA has also recently accepted two new interns who are planning to work with the community to develop interesting and accessible programming within the Computer Lab so that everyone is able to make the most the new computers have to offer.

The Resource Centre has now been outfitted with solar panels to charge the MSI x-slim laptops that have arrived. Each of the centres three librarians and Isaac have learned how to properly care for the solar panel system; refilling the battery will pure water when needed and ensuring they leave one light on each night to drain the battery so it will be ready to recharge the next day. Quite a different way of thinking to many of us who grew up without solar power being reminded to "turn off the light!".

Outside of our work on the computer lab, Africa SOMA continues to provide high school scholarships to Elangata Wuas students of outstanding academic achievement, send interns to volunteer teach in short staffed local schools in the area, and continue to work with the community to support and further develop programming in the Elganata Wuas Library and Resource Center. We ask you to please let your friends and family know about our project. We are still seeking support for the internet subscription, additional furniture which will be required to support the lab and maintaining Isaac, our Computer Lab Manager's salary. As always, feel free to email us with any questions or thoughts you might have at infor@africasoma.org. Additionally you can always post on our Global Giving project page wall with your thoughts. We look forward to sharing our continued progress with you.

With gratitude and on behalf of the Elangata Wuas Community,

Anna Bunce,

Africa SOMA Board Member

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