It's been a very busy summer for the staff, volunteers, and students at HOCW. A lot of the progress we have made over the last few months was facilitated by our Global Giving funding. So, thank you again from all of us!
The first big news is that we completed our computer lab! Its a small space that utilizes some great technology that is perfect for the developing world- raspberry pi servers, Matricom tablets and Khan Academy lite curricula. In August one of our wonderful volunteers from the US worked with our Ugandan staff to set up the computer lab. After that, we didn't waste any time getting our students going. Currently there are 5 classes, each taught twice a week for two hours each session. For 27 beginners, the classes primarily teaches students how to type and use Microsoft Word and other Office applications. For 13 more advanced students, they focus on Khan Academy videos through which they can learn about various topics such as English, Algebra, and computer programming.
Just this last week, we installed wireless internet in the HOCW compound! (until now we have been paying per minute to use internet through a portable modem on each machine- an inefficinet and expensive way to access the internet). This is a big change for HOCW staff, volunteers and students. All enrolled students can sign up for time to use the internet in the hours that the computer lab is not being used for class. Even in the village of Ndejje, Uganda technology is ubiquitious and this will allow our students to keep up with the workd around them. Wireless internet will also open up more educational opportunities for staff and students- we are looking forward to exploring those and reporting back next time!
The women in the HOCW Community Collective have been working hard too. They have worked to define their goals and objectives as well as the responsibilities that come with membership in the collective. We were able to buy some new sewing machines and hire some of the women for teaching and leaderhip roles. The women are learing valuable lessons about pricing strategy, marketing, and developing new and unique products in response to their market. They have already found a few new markets for their products- one a tourist market and one a more traditional African store. We have very high hopes for these budding business women and expect that they are well on the way to supporting their families in a higher standard of living.
Thank you again to all of our supporters!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for making our first Global Giving Campaign such a success! We're excited to tell you about everything that we've been working on.
Many of the refugees we serve have lived in conflict areas for much of their lives. For many of them this means that their education has been disrupted and irregular. We have some members of our community who have graduated from University and others who can not read. Lack of basic primary school education is a real barrier to building a successful life in Uganda or wherever they are resettled. Because we have so many people at so many different levels in so many different subjects, we needed to look for a solution that could address the needs of as many people as possible. So, we are building a computer lab where students at different levels can learn the subjects relevant to them at their own pace at the most convenient time for them.
Lucky for us a lot of technology companies and non-profits have been working on solutions that make technology more accessible for groups like us- with limited financial resources, electricity and internet connectivity- barriers that would have been insurmountable even a few years ago. But, we are taking advantage of new products made by raspberry pi, Khan Academy, Khan Academy lite, and Matricom. We are also lucky to have a volunteer who works in the Information Technology field and is taking the project to a whole new level. We have ordered equipment, are building the server and working on the policies and procedures for users. We hope to be up and running by late July. (Here is a blog post on the raspberry pi website that explains a project similar to our for those interested in the details- http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/3829)
Another challenge that we have us space. At this time we have more people who want to attend classes than we have space to teach them. So, we are finishing the area behind our volunteer house and turning it into another classroom. We hired a refugee carpenter and his son, who both attend programming with us, to build new desks, benches and our computer lab. We also had the floor leveled and covered in concrete so that we had a level surface for our new desks and tables! Now, we can expand our programming and teach more students. This was a big job for our refugee carpenter and provided him with more than a weeks work and income for his family.
We are so excited about all of these new projects and look forward to what the coming months will bring.
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