Technology
 Kenya
Project #10278

Equip a rural Kenyan library with a computer lab

by Africa SOMA Inc.
Vetted
Noah teaches two students at EWRC computer lab
Noah teaches two students at EWRC computer lab

In the last months of 2015 the Elangata Wuas computer lab continued to be used by many students, teachers, community members and our computer students. The lab that was set up through the generosity of our donors remains one of the only places in Elangata Wuas to access computers and the internet free of charge.

Our coordinator Noah is enjoying teaching computer lessons three days/week. Currently he has 4 students: three who are nearing the completion of their lessons, and one who will finish in February. Upon graduation from Noah's lessons, participants receive official certificates listing the programs that they are proficient in. Noah has been enjoying seeing the difference that computer training can make in people's lives. Three students finished their computer classes in December, and one of them, Ezekiel explained: "The computer classes I took at the EWRC allowed me to enter college with a good knowledge of computers. This meant that I was able to skip many of the first year computer classes, saving a lot of money in tuition, and moving through my program more quickly."

Noah and the EWRC committee (made up of volunteers from the community) have been working in the last months on marketing computer classes more broadly in urban centres such as Kajiado where Elangata Wuas residents pay large amounts of money for transportation and computer classes. Getting lessons at a good price at the EWRC without the added cost of transport to Kajiado is a real resource to community members here. We are also marketing the lessons to students who have recently completed high school, and are awaiting their exam results before applying to colleges and universities. We aim to greatly increase the number of students this year.

In the month of December the Africa SOMA scholarship winners had a meeting at the EWRC and had the chance to learn to use the computers as well.

The current fundraising priority for the computer lab is to have wireless internet installed. At the moment we have two usb keys that can provide internet, but this only works for 2 computers at a time. The EWRC committee is working on applying to funding from local sources to contribute to this aim, and we will be following up with more details about our own fundraising efforts. 

Happy New Year from the Africa SOMA team and the Elangata Wuas Resource Centre! We are so grateful to each and every one of our donors in 2015. You have all contributed to providing access to computers and computer skills training in an area that otherwise would not have any. 

Noah our fearless computer lab instructor
Noah our fearless computer lab instructor
Noah and his computer students
Noah and his computer students

Noah is pleased to welcome three new students to the EWRC computer lab: Patricia, Ezekiel, and Eddah.

Patricia, who is married, 39 years old, with 4 young children, and a primary education, is a livestock keeper and business woman. She sells used clothing and traditional fabrics at local markets. She has enrolled in the computer course to learn how to type, to send and receive emails, and to learn how to store data. She hopes these skills might help her secure a job as a secretary for a development organization and to communicate with friends afar. She is also looking forward to teaching these skills to her children. The classes, she states, are going well but it has been hard to find enough time due to other duties and the prevailing drought. 

Ezekiel is 42 years old, married to two wives, with 10 young children, and has studied up to two years of secondary school. He is a livestock keeper and has great expertise in nature and wildlife. He has worked as a nature guide in a local eco-tourism facility and has for many years worked as a research assistant on various programs. Like Patricia, he also is keen to learn how to use a computer and how to type efficiently. He would like to be able to use these skills to communicate through email and, consistent with his insatiable appetite for knowledge, he would like to learn to use the internet to search for information.

Eddah is 26 years old, married with 2 small children and has completed her secondary education. She is a livestock keeper, business lady and is currently working as a research assistant on a project exploring women's perspectives on land privatization in Elangata Wuas. She is keen to learn all aspects of computer work, including Excel and scanning. She hopes to use these skills for her own professional development and to be able to teach it to others. She finds the classes are progressing well but notes that the network connection can be weak and unreliable.

All three would like to extend their gratitude to those who have contributed to making these courses a reality. Noah hopes that his classes will continue to attract such devoted students! 

The Elangata Wuas Library and Resource Centre is undergoing some changes!

Noah continues to lead computer classes and has some wonderful eager students. Many of these students were able to put their new found internet skills to use and acted as research assistants for a service learning partnership Africa SOMA has had over this last semester with students at the University of Maryland. Students investigated and researched a variety of issues surrounding the library and it's access to the community, such as how we can better serve community members in outlying areas. Noah's computer students worked for the Maryland students on the ground, providing them with answers and helpful contextual information. All in all it was a wonderfully beneficial project for both the Maryland students as well as the Elangata Wuas Computer Lab students!

Aside from our recent partnership with the University of Maryland class, the library has been undergoing some significant changes. Africa SOMA has always aimed to create a sustainable self-sufficient library. With this in mind, the long term goal for the library and resource centre was to transfer over the operating costs to the community-run Elangata Wuas Resource Centre Committee (EWRC). As this point has now come there have been some changes as a result of this transition. Due to the low levels of income being made by the library, the librarian is now only working part time, with Noah picking up the slack. Africa SOMA is working with the EWRC to come up with creative income generating solutions, and thankfully the computer lab, which you helped create, is providing much needed regular income for the library. Africa SOMA will soon be posting a Global Giving Project aiming to fundraise for the seed money to start income generating projects which will keep the library open and running smoothly into the future.

We thank you for your ongoing support of this project and encourage you to check out our latest projects

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Noah outside the Library and Computer Lab
Noah outside the Library and Computer Lab

Africa SOMA is excited to introduce our new Kenyan Coordinator and Computer Lab Manager, Noah Sankale Pesi! Noah is currently doing his Bachelor of Business Administration at St. Paul's University by distance education. He is from Elangata Wuas, where the Library and Computer Lab is located, and has spent a lot of time in the library in the last couple of years. In an email Noah had this to say to the Africa SOMA team and supporters. 

"Hi everyone. I am so glad to be part of Africa Soma team, I must begin by appreciating your tireless efforts  in helping my community (Elangata-wuas). You have actually change lives of many pupils who did not have hopes of joining secondary schools and even instilling the culture of reading using the library to my community."

Africa SOMA is also excited to announce a new fundraising initative with Rough Giraffes, a non-profit social enterprise which sells graphic t-shirt's. This beautifully designed shirts make excellent gifts and are all printed on sweatshop free shirts.  They can be purchased a the Rough Giraffe's website and will soon be available on the Africa SOMA Etsy fundraising shop "Saturday Soko".

Noah at work in the computer lab
Noah at work in the computer lab

Links:

Isaac with librarians, library askari
Isaac with librarians, library askari's and board

Africa SOMA is sad to say goodbye to our wonderful computer lab instructor and Africa SOMA coordinator for the last year and half, Isaac Kakeni. The library and computer lab will not be the same without him, but we wish him the best as he moves on to new and exciting career opportunities in the NGO world and works to advance his education. As we search for a new computer lab manager for Africa SOMA, we know he will not be eay to replace. Thankfully one of our Board Member's Jennie Glassco, is on the ground in Elangata Wuas to facillitate filling the position of computer lab manager. 

While saying goodbye to Isaac may be sad news for the library we are we excited to announce that electricity may soon be available in the Elangata Wuas region. While our library runs off solar power, our solar panels are only able to power a limited number of computers and don't allow for any additional power usage in the library. While we will continue to use solar panels to power our computers, electricty in the community will allow us to expand the libraries activities and potential as a rental space, and the librarians have hopes of buying a projector to use for community presentations. 

As always, and especially as we move through this time of transition we would like to thank Africa SOMA's donors for their continued support. It is through your donations that the Elangata Wuas Library and Resource center is able to offer computer services to the Elangata Wuas community. From us as well as all the students and community members who make use of the computers to forward their schooling or business endeavors - Thank you. 

 

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Organization Information

Africa SOMA Inc.

Location: Montreal, Quebec - Canada
Website: http:/​/​www.africa-soma.org
Project Leader:
Anna Bunce
Fundraising Officer
Montreal, Quebec Canada
$11,416 raised of $13,130 goal
 
181 donations
$1,714 to go
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