Equip a rural Kenyan library with a computer lab

Mar 20, 2014

Computer lab allows college and university students to pursue distance learning from home!

Noah is working on getting a business degree
Noah is working on getting a business degree

Over the last months the computer lab has been used extensively by primary and secondary students as well as individuals from the community taking lessons in computer skills from our talented computer lab manager Isaac. However, there is a new group of computer lab beneficiaries we are just discovering: college and university students pursuing degrees through distance learning.

Noah comes to the library every day from Monday to Friday to study for his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He uses the laptops in the computer lap to access online course materials, prepare and submit assignments, and do research. 

It’s because of this facility that I was able to pursue my degree from St. Paul’s University by distance learning” says Noah. “Going to live in Nairobi while pursuing my studies would be very expensive, and so I am very happy to be able to work towards my degree while living at home”. 

In response to the number of college and university students now using the library, we are looking into expanding our book collection to include appropriate research resources, and are planning to install additional research software, including offline Wikipedia, onto our laptops. 

Thank you to all of our donors who have made it possible and affordable for students in Elangata Wuas to pursue higher education by providing and equipping this distance learning facility!


Nov 19, 2013

Computer Lab

Thanks to your donation the computer lab in the Elangata Wuas Library and Resource Centre is continuing to grow. Isaac Kakeni, our enthusiastic computer lab manager continues to teach daily computer classes to a variety of community members in the area. Isaac has had numerous community members come in for basic typing lessons and is enjoying watching his students, young and old alike, flourish. Four Elangata Wuas youth, Ezekiel, Stanley, Milton, and Antony, have been working particularily hard with Isaac on more advanced computing topics. These young men see computer skills as a key part of increasing their employability and increasing their income potential. 

Unfortunately, one of the computers recently suffered a malfunction and had to be fixed. Isaac was able to do this but this speaks to the computer lab's continued need for financial support. The size of Isaac's classes are restricted by the small number of computers available and losing one to a malfunction only reduced how many people were able to use the computers. 

With the success of the computer lab, it is important to reflect on the limited access to computers the Elangata Wuas community had before the lab opened its doors. Prior to the computer lab's opening, any Elangata Wuas community members who wanted to use a computer or were interested in learning how to use one had to travel to the larger nearby community of Kajiado. This trip takes at least an hour by matatu (the local name for privately owned buses in the region) and costs about 1000 Kenyan Shillings (the equivalent of $12 in US currency) for the roundtrip. With such a significant barrier in terms of time and money, few people in the area were able to use computers. Now the lab is only a three minute walk from the centre of Elangata Wuas, a walk of five minutes or less from 2 of the 7 local elementary schools and the regions only high school. In a world growing more and more connected by the internet, we at Africa SOMA cannot thank you enough for helping in the move to make all the information of the internet available to the Elangata Wuas community. 

If you are interested in recieving quarterly newsletters on all of Africa SOMA's projects beyond our work with the computer lab, please follow the link below!

On behalf of Africa SOMA and the Elangata Wuas Community, thank you again for your donation!


Aug 19, 2013

Elangata Wuas Library and Computer Lab continues to flourish!

Thanks to your generous donations the Elangata Wuas Library and Computer Lab is continuing to flourish. Not only are more and more children, youth and adults being drawn into the library to take computer classes and use the laptops, but this service is having a great impact upon the employability of many youth in the Elangata Wuas area. 

This June and July while Kenya's teachers were striking, students in Elangata Wuas flocked to the library to revise for their upcoming exams, making great use of the new revision books, computer lab space and Africa SOMA interns who offered free tutoring. For many of the students having this quiet, well equipped learning space available to them was a saving grace in the stressful period before their standardized exams. 

The computer lab classes have continued, attracting many adults and students who have never used a computer before. Isaac's patience and knowledge has been extremely useful as he offers classes focusing on a wide variety of aspects from basic computer use, to how to use Word, to navigating the internet. 

With an average monthly attendance of over 1000 community members, we have great confidence in the positive impact the Library and Computer Lab are having on Elangata Wuas' community. Whether it's using the revision books to study for exams, learning a marketable skill on one of the laptops you've helped provide, or simply catching up on the going ons of the world outside Elangata Wuas with the newspapers, the Library and Computer Lab is having a significant impact on the lives of Elangata Wuas residents. 

While the donations we have recieved thus far have allowed us to make the computer lab operational, we are still a bit short of our fundraising goal. The money still needed will go towards Issac's salary, allowing him to offer more computer classes and reduce their price, as profits from current computer classes are currently being used to pay his salary. As we continue to fundraise, we want to thank you for your ongoing support of our project. 

On behalf of the whole Africa SOMA Team and Elangata Wuas Community - Thank you!


May 10, 2013

Computer Lab Continues to Blossom in the Rainy Season

The Library under a rainy season rainbow
The Library under a rainy season rainbow

Thanks to your contribution the computer lab is continues to thrive and expand. Issac, the computer lab manager has continued to offer classes to interested students on everything from computer basics to Microsoft Excel and Internet to basic DOS work. While some of the computer lab students are interested in understanding the simple basics of computer use, other students are learning how a computer functions from Issac. Teaching three computer classes a day, Issac makes sure to tailor the material and pace to each of his student's ability. "During the computer practicals, Issac gives us more time to do our [lesson]." a student of Issac's explained, "In other places, everything happens in a rush because the main interest of those other schools is mainly money and not the learning process of the student."

Since Kenya's school vacation most of Issac's students are between the ages of 18-35, but Issac is excited to start teaching more primary and high school students once classes resume. The computer lab has drawn the attention of a varied mix of young men and women both married and unmarried. Since youth employment is low in Kenya, computer skills are hugely in demand for entering the workforce and private entrepreneurship. "I have had a major difference in my life", one computer student explained to Africa SOMA, "If I get employed somewhere where they use the computer, I can use it. Before I attended the class, I didn't know anything about computers. This has also introduced me to the broader world of technology. Before I only knew about mobile [cell phone] technology".

The convenience of having access to computer lab for the rural community of Elangata Wuas is opening up the world of computers for many Elangata Wuas residents. "[The computer lab] is pretty near and I have seen also the way they teach students is interactive." one of Issac's newest students explained. Prior to the computer lab opening, community members wishing to use a computer would have to travel to Kajiado, an expensive hour long bus trip. Now that the computer lab is running community members can access these skills in a convenient, inexpensive manner.

While the computer lab may be up and running, our goal has not yet been met. The lab is still in need of some small items, such as usb keys, internet cables, headphones and a curtain to create a more private learning space. Issac's salary is still not fully covered although Africa SOMA is dedicated to fundraising to cover his salary until the computer lab is financially self sustaining. We look forward to continuing to share our project news with you and thank you again for your contribution to this project!

Computer Lab Teacher Issac works with his students
Computer Lab Teacher Issac works with his students


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


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Project Leader

Anna Bunce

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Montreal, Quebec Canada

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Map of Equip a rural Kenyan library with a computer lab