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Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!

by Abundance
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!
Build an eLearning Center in rural Malawi!

As promised, we are happy to share the documentary (22min) produced by Chanco TV about our eLearning Centre. A number of people were interviewed in this documentary including

  • Carl Meyer, our technology advisor who introduced us to Rachel and Keepod technologies
  • Hamela, the Headteacher of Chilimba Secondary School where the eLearning Centre is hosted
  • Four users of the eLearning Centre who explained how the learning resources were helping them. 

Here's the link to: ChancoTV Documentary on eLearning Centre

At the risk of appearing immodest, I want to share a draft video of my trip to Malawi, which was produced by Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA). It is a short 4.5min video (and has not been published by SFA yet, as it will be edited further). Some of you may know, Abundance is a founding member of SFA network an interdisciplinary international network with members in UK, Nigeria, Uganda, Botswana and Malawi. The reason I'm sharing this video is that it has a small snippet of our visit to Mbando village. Also, I thought you will enjoy the views in the video of the landscape of Malawi, dancing and singing of women from Mbando village, the background music of Jaco Jana and most importantly, some images inside our eLearning Centre including the shot of the mural with all donors names on it. 

Here's the link: SFA Short video featuring visit to Mbando village

Happy viewing! 

Donate to help us continue our work:

With your generous donations, we were able to set up this eLearning Centre at Mbando village. However, it is one thing to set up the centre, another to ensure its sustainability and making sure it continues to help users in future. We need more funds for holding regular training at the centre and for maintenance (for example replacement of battery every two years etc.). We estimate that we need $3,450 more to carry on our work comfortably and keep a fund in the bank for maintenance activities for the future. 

Please share our Global Giving fundraiser widely https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/rural-offgrid-it-center-for-malawian-youth/

If you can spare any funds and donate, they are most welcome! Every penny counts.

Thanks in advance!

Training at eLearning Center held on 13 April 2019
Training at eLearning Center held on 13 April 2019

I had a wonderful trip to Malawi between 1-15 April 2019 and went to Mbando village twice during this trip to see how our eLearning Center was doing. Here are some updates for you:

1. Update on laptops:

During the fundraiser, we had promised to supply five laptops. We have done that through purchasing used laptops in Malawi. Then we got a surprise! On 9 April, we got a donation of three more laptops! Carl Meyer of Shift IT accompanied us to the centre and made the donations, which he sourced from a private company called BlueZone. We now have a total of eight laptops for our centre! A big thank you to Carl! 

2. Update on Solar power:

We need your support here: We have gone over our budget for the Solar power. Our initial solar power system was inadequate for the power needs of the centre, however, we now have more laptops, and therefore we had to upgrade the solar system. The upgrade through the installation of two new solar panels was done on 8 April by PowerAid and cost us an additional MK646,575. We had used up most of the funds from this crowdfunding and hence paid Mk550,000 to PowerAid using other funds from Abundance (meant for overheads, not connected to this Global Giving funds) and requested some more time to pay the rest. We appeal to you to support us to meet this additional cost, which was not anticipated at the start of the project. 

3. Update on training:

On 13 April, we invited Kayetha Banda, an accredited trainer of Shift IT to train users of the eLearning Center.  It was heartening to note good participation from the community, who have now constituted an "eLearning Committee" and the Chairman of the Committee keeps the keys to the centre. The trainees vary from Standard 8 students to youth to middle-aged mothers to the elderly. I observed during the training, a Std.8 student was turning on the laptop, logging in with the password, opening the browser, typing the IP address to access the Rachel device, scrolling down to choose Ted Talks and played a Ted Talk video on human bones. He watched the video intently, and his peers joined too. I smiled broadly! This is exactly what we aimed for! This hunger for knowledge, this autonomy, this ability and skill for users to get the knowledge they want! And we thank YOU for supporting the village to achieve this! 

Clifford Mkanthama, the Strategic Advisor of Abundance joined us too for the training session. The Rachel has over 400GB of information including e-books. We now have eight volunteers who have agreed to translate books and documents from English to Chichewa for the centre. When we announced this at the training, the community responded with loud applause! We need more training at the centre and need your support for this. Kayetha Banda charges $50 per day for providing training. Our desire is for at least four training every month for a whole year. 

4. Chanco TV:

Chanco TV, a local television channel visited our centre on 9 April and interviewed the Head Teacher of the Secondary School where the eLearning Center is located, users of the centre, Carl Meyer our technical adviser, Stewart Paul Secretary of Abundance and myself. It was exciting to see Chanco TV journalists interview the users, one of whom was a young girl. She was asked how the centre helped her. She said that through the centre she accessed information regarding how to make soap and now plans to start soap-making as an income generation activity. The journalist then asked her what was the recipe for soapmaking. Without missing a beat, she went on to list all the ingredients and the method of soapmaking. Such practical knowledge gained from the eLearning centre will help improve lives, we believe. 

Enjoy some photographs from the solar power upgrade, training and visit by Chanco TV. As soon as we get a video recording of the TV coverage, we will share with you. Please consider supporting the centre with more funds to meet our unanticipated costs of upgrading the solar power and for conducting more training in the future. Thanks in advance!

Upgrade of the solar power with two new panels
Upgrade of the solar power with two new panels
New solar panels installed 8 April 2019
New solar panels installed 8 April 2019
Chanco TV interviews Headteacher
Chanco TV interviews Headteacher
Std. 8 pupils accessing learning materials
Std. 8 pupils accessing learning materials
Training at eLearning Center 13 April 2019
Training at eLearning Center 13 April 2019

In 2018, we raised $6,585 on GlobalGiving, this was due to your generous donations. $740 of this was driven by the GlobalGiving team through bonus prizes, matching money, corporate partnerships, gift card redemptions, and marketing efforts. We had a total of 68 donors from around the world. Your love and support as donors are what helps us continue our work. 

We started off 2019 fresh and enthusiastic, and was thrilled to hear from Global Giving that Abundance was given three recognitions: "Top Ranked Organization", "Vetted Organization" and "Effective Organization". These awards were based on ranking from our donors/supporters, our participation in the Global Giving campaign, sending reports on time and undertaking learning sessions online to become a more effective organization. 

The update regarding the eLearning center is as follows: 

1.  We have set up solar power at the eLearning Center

2. We supplied furniture to the eLearning center

3. We supplied the Rachel device to the Center 

4. We deployed 50 keepods to users and 100 more to be deployed this year. (We had initially promised 45 keepods, but thanks to the discounted rate, we were able to get 150 keepods)

5. We supplied three laptops to the center, two more to be supplied. The procurement for two laptops is planned for this coming week.

6. We undertok three training sessions with the users of the center in the village by a qualified trainer. Many more regular training sessions are planned for 2019.

7. We are planning maintenance of the solar equipment- These coming week engineers from Power-Aid, our solar power supplier would be undertaking maintenance of the solar power system. 

We will keep you posted of all the developments at the center through such reports and our facebook page. 

Hope you all heard the radio interview by Ruth and Brett about this project? It is on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5ZqPKKm9YE&t=2s

Thank you for your support and we hope your 2019 will be amazing. 

Warm regards, 

Deepa

Solar power installed at eLearning Center
Solar power installed at eLearning Center

Last weekend was an exciting one for Abundance, we got a lot done!

We are happy to report that over the weekend, solar power was installed, keepods distributed, Rachel device uploaded with requested learning materials and laptops were provided to the eLearning Center at Mbando village. 

If you remember in September this year, we introduced the Rachel and Keepod technologies to the Mbando village. At that session, the community had made a long list of learning materials. It ranged from technologies such as soapmaking, to school textbooks to leadership trainings etc. We are happy to report that most of these resources have been downloaded on to the Rachel server and the village can now access it. Thanks to University of Massachusetts's World Library, which freely provided these resources. 

Then, a little miracle happened, which helped us to scale up our impacts threefold at no extra cost!

We had initially planned to procure 50 keepods to provide to 50 users in the village. This was based on a budget of the "retail" price of keepods in Malawi. We were fortunate that ShiftIT's Carl Meyer, who is our technology advisor knew the Keepod founders in USA. Carl connected us to them and they offered us a discount for non-profit organizations. So we were able to procure 150 keepods directly from Keepod USA. So now, 150 people can access the eLearning Center instead of 50! 

We bought three keepod ready laptops and gave it to the eLearning Center this weekend. The laptops provided are working perfectly well with the solar power at the center. 

We want to buy a few more laptops in the months to come. If you have old laptops you want to get rid of please get in touch with us. It will be put to good use at the center, especially as more users will be accessing the center than originally planned.

During the weekend, Abundance also held a two-day training session. SourceIT sent an accredited trainer to Mbando village to train the users. Enjoy the photos of these activities and please click on the short 2 min video at the end of this message!

Thanks once again for being part of this exciting project. Please do know that all this was possible due to your generosity! 

Training at eLearning Center
Training at eLearning Center
Soap making was a learning resource requested
Soap making was a learning resource requested
The group that attended training @eLearning Centre
The group that attended training @eLearning Centre

Links:

Workshop to introduce Rachel and Keepod technology
Workshop to introduce Rachel and Keepod technology

"We welcome technologies such as eLearning for rural communities, and are excited that this will enhance education", said MacDonald Kuse, Division head of Eastern Region, Ministry of Education, Malawi, when the Abundance team members met him on 21st August 2018. The team explained to Kuse at his office about Rachel and Keepod technologies and its potential to provide learning resources to communities which are cut off from the grid and have no wifi access. 

The team went on to hold a workshop on the 24th of August at Chilimba Secondary School, the location of the eLearning Center in Mbando village. It was a well-attended session, with the Chief of the village in attendance, mother's groups, youth groups, teachers and village committee members attending too. ShiftIT's trainer explained about the technologies to community members and Abundance team collected additional information requests from the participants. It was exciting for the community to access learning resources through laptops and smartphones. Many of them were seeing this for the first time and their excitement was evident on their faces as they clicked a button and a video started playing, or they scrolled down the long list of electronic books, and showed keen interest to learn through this center. 

The Abundance team asked the what additional learning resources rthey would like in addition to the 500GB of materials preloaded on to Rachel.  The participants made a list that ranged from "Leadership skills", to Malawian textbooks to DIY videos on making soap to "Climate Change"! The Rachel device has been sent to ShiftIT to upload these additional materials. 

The Abundance team had a fun-filled day on the 2nd of September gathering together volunteers and members to paint the room where the eLearning center will be hosted. We realised, painting walls can be a good team-building exercise! Furniture for the center was also donated on that day. A painting of the Abundance logo (tree of life) was done by a local artist and the names of all those who donated were painted on the logo. This painting, framed with bamboo is now proudly displayed at the eLearning Center room. A testimony that ordinary people can come together to do extraordinary things!

Abundance is now busy with procuring solar panels, keepods and laptops and will keep you posted as we go along this wonderful journey to bring the internet to remote rural Mbando village!

Meeting with Division Head Ministry of Education
Meeting with Division Head Ministry of Education
Information needs for eLearning Center
Information needs for eLearning Center
Donating furniture & gearing up to paint the room
Donating furniture & gearing up to paint the room
Painting the room for eLearning Center
Painting the room for eLearning Center
Finally, eLearning center room prepared!
Finally, eLearning center room prepared!
 

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Organization Information

Abundance

Location: Machinga - Malawi
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Abundance_ww
Project Leader:
Ruth Mumba
Machinga, Malawi
$6,575 raised of $10,000 goal
 
83 donations
$3,425 to go
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