Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students

by Welcome Ideas
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
A student gets his first Pfizer shot
A student gets his first Pfizer shot

Hello from Zanzibar!

2022 has already been a great year for Welcome Ideas.  At the end of 2021 we completed all of the classes that had been interrupted by the COVID pandemic and earlier this year we selected 32 new students from a huge applicant pool to join Welcome Ideas!   Those students joined our existing students who are completing our latest round of short courses in just a few weeks time.  We have already begun recruiting for our next round of short courses and are putting plans in place to offer our certificate courses in September, contingent on our successful registration with the Vocational Training Authority.

In February we partnered with the Zanzibar Ministry of Health to vaccinate all of our students and staff.  As of the end of March, just over 5% of Tanzania’s population was fully vaccinated, so we were very excited to have this opportunity for our students.  We are very proud of our students, who continue to be leaders and role models in their communities as we work to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic together.

Thanks to your continued generosity and support, we started this set of short courses with projectors mounted in both our computer classroom and our largest teaching classroom.  Having projectors mounted to the ceiling or wall is only something seen in a couple of university lecture halls here in Zanzibar, so our students are extremely proud of the upgrades we’ve made to the facility.  We can now project from our laptops to the projectors wirelessly from anywhere in the building.  In the computer classroom students will be able to project their work on the screen without having to manually connect to the projector.  This gives us an incredible opportunity to make our classes much more interactive and engaging for the students.

In the last update we discussed our plans to install satellite internet in the school, but in January we discovered that fiberoptic internet was going to be available in our neighborhood (Kiembe Samaki).  For the last few months, we have been working with the national telecom company, TTCL, to determine the cost and potential timing of the installation.  The benefit of fiberoptic cable over satellite is that satellite speeds can often be slowed or stopped by storms.  In addition,  we have the opportunity to expand our bandwidth to much greater speeds in the future with the fiberoptic internet option.  We are working hard to make sure that the option we chose makes the most sense for the future growth of the organization and is the best use of our limited financial resources.  We hope that we have the new internet installed by the next update so that we can begin incorporating it into our IT curriculum.

Our IT classes continue to be our most popular courses.  During this most recent set of short courses we offered two Beginning IT in Tourism classes.  Every single computer is being utilized and we have a words per minute typing competition underway between the two classes which has led to students coming in before class and staying late after class to practice their new typing skills.  Our beginning IT students are already creating eye catching documents in Word and analytical spreadsheets in Excel.  We appreciate your support as we continue to expand our IT offerings and better utilize the resources in our computer classroom.

We’re excited for all that 2022 has to bring.  Thank you for continuing to be a part of the Welcome Ideas success story!

A student shows off her vaccine card
A student shows off her vaccine card
Team from the Ministry of Health
Team from the Ministry of Health
Our newly mounted classroom projectors
Our newly mounted classroom projectors
International Women's Day at Welcome Ideas
International Women's Day at Welcome Ideas
A student practices typing in IT class
A student practices typing in IT class
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We are so excited to share some great news about Welcome Ideas! At the end of October, the Zanzibar Commission for Labour issued Kenn’s work permit and the following week – the first week in November - we restarted the courses that had been cut short by the pandemic.  In mid-December we completed two Beginning IT courses, one Intermediate IT course, a Tourism Leadership Development course, an Introduction to Tourism course, a Cultural Heritage in Tourism course, and a Tourism in the Sharing Economy course.  It is great having the students back in school and has brought new life back into the building.

In January we will interview another group of potential students for our next round of short courses.  Those short courses will commence in January, and we hope to begin our certificate courses in the early spring.  We have several hundred potential students anxiously awaiting our next intake, so we’re excited to continue adding to the number of students we serve from the local community.

Our IT courses continue to be some of the most popular courses that we offer, and we are anxious to start training our students on our new student email system, our new online library, and our catalog of online courses.  Your continued support has helped acquire new technology and continue to pay for the internet, which remains a large expense for the school.  We are looking into satellite internet which will offer us higher bandwidth at a lower cost than the LTE internet we currently use.  The installation costs for the satellite internet are significant, but our monthly internet costs would drop and our bandwidth would increase significantly.  The satellite internet also offers us the opportunity to increase our bandwidth even more in the future as we begin helping students create their own websites and manage a number of online business functions.

Prior to opening the school, we conducted reorientation sessions for all of our students on our new COVID-19 prevention procedures.  It’s been a challenge for everyone getting used to social distancing, wearing masks, and having smaller classes; but our students have adapted well and are becoming role models within their communities of how to help curb the pandemic.  As we look forward, we know that the pandemic will remain a challenge that we will need to adapt to and prepare for as we continue to ramp up our programs at Welcome Ideas.

Thank you for your continued support of our program and a special thanks to those of you who helped us during Giving Tuesday and this holiday season.  This has been a challenging time for charitable organizations around the world and we could not survive without your generous support.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays,

The Welcome Ideas Team

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Wahida selling her small business' eggs to a cafe
Wahida selling her small business' eggs to a cafe

We were hoping that this update to our GlobalGiving supporters would be a bit longer, featuring stories of life in the Welcome Ideas school after reopening.  Unfortunately, our reopening plans have been delayed again by the frustrating process of renewing Kenn’s work permit as a volunteer teacher through the Zanzibar Commission for Labour.  In order to ensure that we role model the principles of our Anti-Corruption, Anti-Bribery, and Transparency Policy, Kenn and Abdul have been working through various government agencies & officials to obtain the work permit renewal.  One benefit of doing this the right way has been our exposure to different government officials, who are all impressed with the work we are doing in Zanzibar.  We are hopeful that we will be able to resolve the delay with the Commission for Labour soon so that we can continue with the plans for our school reopening.

In the meantime, some work has been done at the school to prepare for reopening.  We’ve put up new banners, installed hand sanitizer dispensers in each classroom, and posted COVID-19 guidelines at the school entrance.  Our students ask every day when we will be reopening the school.  They are all excited to return to the classroom and continue their education.  While the school has been closed, they have put their knowledge to use with many of our students working in the tourism sector or continuing the work on creating their small businesses.  

Thank you again for your continued support of our project.  We are looking forward to telling you about our next set of classes and some of our new programs to serve the Zanzibar community once the school finally reopens.

Nabil greeting guests at the Doubletree
Nabil greeting guests at the Doubletree
Installing new banner at the school
Installing new banner at the school
COVID-19 Prevention at Welcome Ideas Reception
COVID-19 Prevention at Welcome Ideas Reception
Hand Sanitizer Dispenser in Classroom
Hand Sanitizer Dispenser in Classroom
Meeting with Minister of Tourism
Meeting with Minister of Tourism

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Abdulsatar (Abdul), In-Country Director
Abdulsatar (Abdul), In-Country Director

In mid-April the president of Welcome Ideas, Kenn Scott, returned to Zanzibar to begin work on reopening the school.  The following is a letter from Kenn to provide an update to all of the generous supporters of our GlobalGiving project:

Dear GlobalGiving Donors,

Hello from Zanzibar!  It is great to be back in East Africa, although I’ve forgotten just how hot it can get on this little island.  After my self-imposed 2-week quarantine, I’ve been venturing out in the community to determine the best way to safely reopen the school.  Abdulsatar, our In-Country Director (pictured above), has been instrumental in determining the best path forward for the school reopening in a manner that is safe and protects our greatest asset, our students & staff. 

It is a different world in Zanzibar; with a few exceptions, you’d hardly know we’re in the middle of a global pandemic.  Despite the recent coronavirus deaths of many prominent Zanzibari and Tanzanian officials, masks and social distancing are the exception and not the rule in Zanzibar.  Masks are worn by employees in some hotels and tourist shops and temperatures are checked on arrival in the airport.  Otherwise, Zanzibar is the same as it was pre-coronavirus.

This reality presents a challenge as we implement our safety procedures for the school, since our students do not see social distancing or mask wearing outside of Welcome Ideas.  Despite this, we will be implementing the most comprehensive coronavirus procedures on the island – with daily temperature checks, masks provided to and required for anyone entering the facility, hand sanitizer in all classrooms and at reception, hourly handwashing, smaller class sizes, enforced social distancing, and intensified cleaning procedures.  

We are as excited as our students are to see them back in the classroom building their skills, but we recognize that there is a big need for education around our new procedures.  We are working on an in-depth Coronavirus Orientation to help explain these new policies to our students so that they can be safe at school and at home.  We want our students to be role models throughout Zanzibar on how to help prevent this virus from spreading to others.

The computer classroom that you helped build will be relocated to one of our larger rooms, to allow for proper social distancing.  We’re currently going through the schedule now to determine how we can offer more classes to ensure every student has the opportunity to continue developing their IT skills.  As we raise more money for this project, we will be able to have more computers so that we can increase the opportunities for students to join our IT classes. 

Although it has been a long road, we are so excited about what 2021 will bring.  I would like to leave you with a few pictures that I think you might find interesting (see below).  As we work on reopening the school, we realized that our water supply system was failing.  Our landlord hired some fundis (workers), to dig us a new well.  As you can see by the pictures, this was an amazing and labor-intensive job as all of the digging was done by hand.  The good news is the fundis were successful and the new well seems to be meeting our water needs!

Thank you for your continued support!

Kind regards,

Kenn

A fundi using just a pick-axe to dig our new well
A fundi using just a pick-axe to dig our new well
All of the dirt and debris from the new well
All of the dirt and debris from the new well

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Greetings from the US and Zanzibar!

 

2020 has been a tough year for Welcome Ideas and for nonprofits around the world.  It has been some time since we provided an update, so we wanted to share the latest information on the status of Welcome Ideas.  Since we lasted updated you, the school was closed as result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we were in the process of working on our reopening plan.  We had hoped to reopen the school this past fall and were actively testing different remote learning possibilities for our students.  Here is an update on each of these initiatives and on new reopening plan.

 

Remote Learning Update

Unfortunately, we ran into a number of challenges with our remote learning plans (including student equipment, Zanzibar bandwidth, financing, and a number of technical & regulatory issues).  As a result, we were unable to implement our remote learning initiatives, but we were able to develop some content and technical infrastructure for the future.  We are still exploring the utilization of distance learning, but on a smaller scale.  Our hope is to use distance learning for some of our immune compromised students who will not be able to attend in person classes until a mass vaccination program has been implemented throughout Zanzibar.  If we are able to target our distance learning efforts to just a few students, we can better utilize our limited financial resources to help those individuals overcome the technical, equipment, and bandwidth issues.

 

Fall Reopening Plan

As we created the reopening plan for the school, we wanted to ensure that we kept our students and staff safe.  With the limited medical resources available on the island, it is important that we do not create a situation where Welcome Ideas becomes a place where the virus is spread.  In addition to temperature checks, social distancing, increased cleaning, improving ventilation, and mandatory mask policies we planned to monitor community transmission through case counts and test positivity rates.

 

While we have the equipment and policies in place to conduct temperature checks, ensure social distancing, provide increased cleaning & ventilation, and provide every student with masks we are unable to assess the level of community transmission at the present time.  The government of Tanzania declared victory over COVID-19 in June and has not provided updated case counts, test positivity rates, or death counts since April.  Although much of the population was wearing masks and practicing social distancing in April, May, and June, these preventative measures quickly fell out of practice after the government’s June announcement.  Although we are not able to accurately assess the case counts for Zanzibar or Tanzania, we do know that the case counts in neighboring countries, where these preventative measures are still in place, continue to climb.

 

In addition, although international travel has resumed to Zanzibar it is very expensive and is plagued by uncertainty as a result of travel bans from stopover countries, constantly changing testing requirements, and quarantine requirements.  In addition to some of these uncertainties, the worry of contracting the virus on long-haul international flights makes it difficult for us to recruit international volunteer teachers at the present time.  These travel challenges and the expiration of work & resident permits for our primary teacher (and organization president) have kept him stuck in the U.S.

 

As a result of our lack of understanding of where the current case counts stand, the lack of preventative measures being practiced in the community, and the difficulty of international travel encountered by our team, we put a hold on our fall reopening plan to ensure the safety of our students and staff.

 

Current Reopening Plan

Our current reopening plan is dependent on a variety of factors, but we are hopeful that we will be able to reopen the school in the next few months.  We are looking to partner with a private health clinic to vaccinate our students and will practice all of our COVID-19 preventative measures until we are confident that the pandemic in Zanzibar is contained.  We want to ensure that we are good stewards of your generosity and do not create a situation that would be an embarrassment to you or our organization.

 

As we enter 2021, we continue to appreciate your generosity.  As a result of the challenges of 2020, your financial support is appreciated now more than ever.  We look forward to our next update, where hopefully we can celebrate the reopening of Welcome Ideas together!

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Organization Information

Welcome Ideas

Location: Pullman, WA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @welcomeideas
Project Leader:
Kenn Scott
Pullman, WA United States
$9,674 raised of $15,000 goal
 
109 donations
$5,326 to go
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