TIV Update: February 2011
During the summer of 2010, I (Ben Smith) returned to Togo to check on the status of the Internet Café project.
When I arrived back in the village of Vo Pedakondji, I was delighted to see the progress that had been made by the local partners. I was able to witness firsthand the development of this concept into a fully functioning Internet Café in a remote African village, full of children eager to learn.
The Café had undergone drastic changes since the last time I was in the village: It had gone from being in a temporary structure with limited capabilities into its permanent home; a purpose built construction, with fully functioning facilities and with a full time staff member dedicated to helping the children. I was extremely impressed by the quality and professionalism of all aspects of the operation and a little overcome – the local partners with the help of the Global Giving funding had clearly done a great job at delivering in the intent of the program, against all of the challenges presented in this remote environment.
Upon entering the Café for the first time I was met with the usual smiles and welcomes from some of the children I had met during my previous visit – but I also noticed how focused they all were on their work and by the how more comfortable and confident they all seemed around the technology – a long way from the wary intimidation with which they first approached these strange screens!. On further engagement I was struck by how quickly their skills had developed, many of them proved to be extremely competent at navigating spreadsheets and word processing etc.
I was sure that a large part of this progress was due to having a dedicated teacher, Mr. Edorh Ghislain. Edorh lives full time at the Café, and is responsible for all of the equipment, facilities and teaching and running of the program. I was pleased to see the acceptance from the children, who were constantly coming up to him for help and advice throughout my visit.
After the first full day back in the village I felt very happy that the village people had embraced the program so enthusiastically – they seemed very proud of the Internet Café and it seemed a highly valued part of the fabric of village life.
I spent the rest of my visit helping the children and working with the local partners on how to best sustain and improve the program moving forward.
It was great to visit and see what was considered a “crazy idea” come to fruition in this remote village in Africa. To see the impact on the lives of these children and how they had progressed was truly impressive. We had at least helped a few children cross the digital divide in some way.
This update includes some updated photographs from this recent trip, including pictures of the finished Café. Enjoy.
The next phase of our program is to begin offering Internet access to adults in the region for a small fee to help offset ongoing expenses. This is predicated on securing improved network connectivity (Hopefully by April this year).
Additional donations will be used to fund the ongoing expenses of the program and to expand it too ever more children in the region.
Thanks to anyone who has donated money, it is greatly appreciated and is being put towards a fantastic cause. If there are any questions regarding the program, or the Café in general, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The children of Vo Pedakondji and the Vogan region thank you!