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!
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 (firstname.lastname@example.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
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 email@example.com. 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,
Africa SOMA Board Member
Thanks to your generosity we have made huge gains towards opening the computer lab at the Elangata Wuas Resource Centre. Working in close partnership with a local Community Based Organization that manages library operations, as well as our two fantastic interns from McGill University, we have been able to purchase and transport equipment to the resource centre, create a lab management plan, and hire a new librarian and a Computer Lab manager!
Additionally, all three of our librarians attended the Maria's Libraries training session in Busia between July 18th and 20th where they learned additional computer skills and discussed programming with other community librarians.
At the end of July, ten brand new MSI X-slim laptops arrived in Elangata Wuas care of our interns from the University College of Utrecht African Field School. They had been shipped from Boston to Holland, carried with the interns to Tanzania, and then brought to Kenya. Currently the librarians and our interns are working together to load up these laptops with a long list of educational and other useful software before the lab opens. Our interns have also been busy purchasing security materials for the laptops, and gathering estimates from different companies for the installation of additional solar panels and batteries required to run the lab. The solar panels installation is currently taking place and we will update you with photos as soon as it is complete!
Isaac Leken Kakeni, our Computer Lab Manager is from the town of Singiraine. He is fluent in English, Swahili, and Maa, has completed a computer training college certificate, has teaching experience at Singiraine Primary School, and is currently finishing up his diploma in business management at Moi University in Narok. He also has experience with computer programming, and worked as an enumerator during the 2009 National census. He has been working hard all month getting the computers and internet system for the lab set up, as well as working on the lab management plans.
Jeremiah Saitoti, our new librarian, is excited to join the library at such a momentous time: "I am now working in the Elangata-wuasResource Center, a place I have been admiring since before I came to work there. I found it to be the best place for a person like me to be who likes reading storybooks and story telling. I would like to congratulate the Africa SOMA organization and all the well-wishers who made their effort to built such a center, which is very beneficial to the community and the outskirts."
We are looking forward to the lab officially opening in the coming month or two, and will keep you updated with our progress until then. Once again, thank you so much for your support. Please consider spreading the word to friends or family that we are still seeking support for some items like the internet subscription, our coordinator's salary, and additional furniture in the lab.
What an incredible month it's been. Thanks to all of your incredible generosity we have raised $6,102 USD and counting for our computer lab installation! We need to give a special thank you to past-interns and Montreal volunteers Anna Bunce, Grace Ling, Anna Hermanson, Lena Weber, Claire Wilmot, and many, many others for their continuous efforts in organizing and getting the word out all month. Members of Daraja, the student group of past and present participants of McGill’s Africa Field Studies program, have been holding fundraisers for Africa SOMA and contributed $700 to our cause! Thank you Daraja for your efforts!
Right now we have two interns from McGill—Claire Wilmot and Emily Duncan—who are about to begin their internships. One of their main projects will be supporting the follow-through of this tremendous fundraising effort, by helping with the delivery of computers, the lab set up, and hiring of the computer lab coordinator. Design Museum of Boston is generously donating ten laptops for the lab, thanks to the efforts and coordination by SmallBean. (Check out DMB’s larger project, Designing a Difference, here: http://designmuseumboston.org/). These laptops will travel to Kenya with our interns, and form a solid base for our lab.
Over the course of the month of May, Liz our Kenyan coordinator, and our interns will work with the Elangata Wuas Resource Centre Committee (a local community-based organization that runs the Resource Centre) to hire a local computer lab manager. This is a key step in the process; our lab will only be a success if we have a committed and talented individual to teach classes and keep the lab working properly. The interns and our local coordinator will also contribute to developing a document outlining how the lab will function, working in coordination with the Committee and our new Lab Manager. While Africa SOMA has been developing a plan for the lab, we are committed to working with the local Committee so that they can question, revise and adapt our ideas based on their inherent knowledge of the community's dynamics.
Currently we are hoping to open the lab in July, but we will keep you updated periodically as the lab gets closer to opening. The funds we have raised so far will be spent on equipping the lab with the necessary furniture, software and hardware such as a printer/photocopier, paying the salary of the computer lab manager, the provision of internet services, and the transport and installation of the solar electricity system. We are currently comparing prices of solar panels and batteries and Nairobi, and will purchase three 140W panels soon. Our comprehensive project budget, including these and other details, will be uploaded to our project page soon.
Once again, we have been truly inspired this month at the outpouring of support for this library project. The Local Management Committee has expressed again and again their enthusiasm for and dedication to this project. Since the local Committee was formed in 2007. it has been our shared dream to equip the Resource Centre with a functioning computer lab. This lab will serve a growing demand for computer-based services and education, provide the Resource Centre with a sustainable income source, and increase the technological skills and access to information among community members.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post on our Global Giving project page wall with any questions or comments you have at this point. Thank you once again. We look forward to sharing the progress of the upcoming months with you!
Jennifer Glassco and Allison Rhoades
Africa SOMA Board Members
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