Sunday, May 23, 2010

Update on Jeff’s work…

Recently, The Kasiisi Project has had a few more volunteers come to help out. We realized that there are tons of “pay to volunteer” organizations all over the world so we thought this would be a good way to provide extra support for the project. So my job has expanded into being an organizer and leader for young volunteers. Mostly this has made feel like a “dad” because of the age difference and different issues that have come up like receiving a text from some teenage volunteer girls asking me where they can purchase tampons in town. Luckily, I was will Krista and Emily so I could tell them where to go.

I have continued supervising the One Laptop Per Child deployment at Kasiisi Primary School. Teaching the students and teachers about the laptops and different ways to use them is a continuous process. I was asked to document how the laptops are used and what we need as an organization to support their use, so I created a short movie. The movie is now on the OLPC YouTube channel—check it out and feel free to donate! After the movie was uploaded, OLPC asked me to guest write on their OLPC News website – it is not yet published though. Shortly after making the movie, we acquired an additional 78 laptops from a failed OLPC deployment in a different part of Uganda. There were two other OLPC corps deployment in Uganda. Each group of college students deployed 100 laptops at a primary school which was partnered up with an NGO. The college students came for a short time (10 weeks) and then the responsibility of training, encouragement, and support of the project rested on the NGO. Our NGO, The Kasiisi Project, has been a vital reason why the laptop program at Kasiisi has been a resounding success.

One of the aspects of the Kasiisi Project is their secondary school student support program. Secondary school in Uganda is not free and the cost is far beyond what most people can afford. Currently we support 90 secondary, university, and vocational students. Funding for the scholarships come from individuals in the US and UK. Sometimes it is one person, sometimes a family, a church, a class, a school, a rotary club….

We also partner up with other organizations that sponsor students. One of those organizations only sponsors smart double orphan girls to attend a boarding primary school. We tested and interviewed 10 girls from our 5 primary schools. The interviews were the hardest part. We had to verify that the girls went to the schools they claimed to be from and that both their parents were actually deceased. It isn’t as if there is some central student database that stores all this information, so we had to ask some hard questions. Discussing in depth the deaths and burials of the parents of these 14 year old girls is difficult and overwhelming. In the end, we could only choose one girl. The life and future of this one girl will vastly improve because of the opportunity to attend a top boarding primary school. It felt great to tell the top girl that she earned the scholarship. However, it was really hard when the other girls would seek me out when I was at their schools to ask if they were getting the scholarship and I had to tell them that they did not get it.

On my last weekend at Kasiisi primary school, a German Television film crew came to shoot a documentary about ICT use in East Africa. Our OLPC program and my work at the school is being featured in the documentary.

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