Planting the Seed for Education

Last year a small group of us planted a seed and deployed a 100 laptops to a small tribe in North Pokot, Kenya. There has been great news sent to us from our NGO, Pastor Edward from City Harvest Ministries. The Kenyan government wants to invest in more laptops to bring to the Kenyan community. The first deployment will be 500 laptops for Summer 2011- we will keep deploying until we hit a grand total of 7 million laptops. The Texas team will be meeting with the Prime Minister of Education, he will be flying in from Kenya to Texas. Currently, we are negotiating the deployment process with One Laptop Per Child and constructing  an Action plan to carry out this project.

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

-Sophia

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We Raised Funds for Two Teachers at Asilong Primary to Attend College for the First Year!

It is with great excitement that I can say that this team raised the funds for Paul and Geoffrey to attend MOI University this fall.  I sent out many letters to friends and family to see if they would assist me in raising the funds for them to attend the university.  I want to give thanks to everyone who was able to support this cause.  As Leila, Sophia, Alex and I saw at Asliong, education is extremely important.  I can not stress this enough.  We hope these two young men will be the start of many from Pokot to attend college.  We hope to have doctors, lawyers, business men and women, and pastors coming from the place we taught students how to use a laptop. 

It has just been one year since our team was teaching students at Asilong, but I keep in touch with many of them through email.  I will have Paul and Geoffrey post on this blog every month about the lessons they are learning.  Also I would like to call anyone who has been keeping up with our blog to action.  We have raised funds for the first year, but will need more funds to keep these two brilliant men in college for four years.  If you would like to help by giving a donation, you can do this by sending a check to:

University Baptist Church

1701 Dutton Ave

Waco,TX 76706

***In the memo line of the check, please make sure that you put “teacher scholarship” so the office will know that it is for the Teacher Scholarship Fund.

If there are any questions, please email me at Brandon_Webb@baylor.edu

God Bless,

Brandon

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Aid For Africa

Just over a year ago, Brandon, Leila, Alex, Cory, and I were in Kenya at about this time. Our life changing experiences continue to influence who we are today. We truly believe we planted a seed for the future and education in Kenya. We are still trying to find ways to support the tribe in North Pokot. Brandon Webb continues to fundraise for the college education of Paul and Carlos. Alex and I are hosting a fundraiser during the month of October within our school through our sorority and fraternity Alpha Sigma Alpha and Tau Kappa Epsilon for medical supplies needed in Pokot. Leila and I are continuously working on workshops and lesson plans dealing with basic healthcare, hygiene, language arts, science, math, and computer science. Brandon is also working on getting toothbrushes donated from a dentist. Even though we may not physically be in Kenya we are there in spirit. Everyday we hold a special place in our hearts for our Kenyan family. Leila and I will be visiting North Pokot and Nairobi for 1 month next summer in 2011. We send our best regards and blessings. I want to include an e-mail update that Pastor Rusty sent me:

Sophia,

Wanted to let you know that Edward and I spent a couple of days in Pokot earlier this week. You would not believe the transformation that has happened in just a few months. The rains have come and it is green everywhere! The community has planted many acres of corn and beans, and they seem to being doing really well. The school is bursting with children, and an organization that I work with at home has come along side them to provide temporary food relief. We do not want any of the children to have to leave because of a lack of food. We are also planning to provide outside training to the students on how to grow food for themselves. We hope that in the next 3 years the village and school can become completely sustainable on their own! We hope to train them in a number of areas in regards to taking care of their environment. Things like crop rotation, replanting trees, garbage and human waste control. There are some great things happening in Asilong, and you and your team should be proud of you contribution. The XO’s are still in good shape and are being used daily by the children. Pretty amazing stuff.

Rusty Akers – pastor

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A Time of Thanks

While hearing from our NGO in Kenya, City Harvest Ministries, it was brought to my attention that the Pokot children in Asilong were not able to attend school. This was worrisome because it meant that the XO’s were not in use. We found out that Asilong Primary school ran out of food to feed the children during the school day and that the children could not be reinstated until the problem was resolved. The OLPC Kenya branch discussed possible solutions to raise the money in order to feed the children. This bump in the road occured around Thanksgiving and we couldn’t imagine the children be without food. Luckily our team member Alex raised over $200.00 in funds through his fraternity (Tau Kappa Epsilon) for the children in Pokot. Now we are happy to say that school will continue, along with the OLPC project. On another note, we have applied for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and are in Phase II of the grant process. Please keep OLPC in your prayers as it is our goal to one day saturate all of Kenya.

If you are in the Christmas spirit or just want to help out the tribe in North Pokot, please go to: www.christmasforkenya.com
UBC Waco teamed up with area artists and local business, Common Grounds, to create a Christmas album. The album can be downloaded with an optional donation. All proceeds will go straight to building a well in Western Kenya for the Pokot Tribe.

God Bless!
-Sophia

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OLPC Conference in Boston

Howdy Ya’ll,
It’s nice to be back in Texas, however, I miss Kenya with all my heart! I had the opportunity to represent our team in the Boston, Massachusetts OLPC Conference. We basically did a whole de-briefing about our projects. We were told that OLPC may not continue to do small portion deployments. They are looking to saturate whole countries like they did in Uruguay and Haiti. Whatever the outcome, OLPC Kenya will continue to support Asilong Primary School. Our ultimate goal, however, will be to saturate all of Kenya. Our plans of now include starting club organizations at our University, writing grants, and finding donors for future deployments. On a larger scale we are setting up meetings with the Prime Minister, Board of Education, OLPC representatives, and our NGO’s to discuss this mass deployment. Who knows what our future holds and with faith in God I believe that this project will flourish.

-Sophia

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Sustainability Update

During our last week in Pokot we decided to have a meeting at the bore hole with all of the community, City Harvest and SNV. We had a lot of positive response, the parents promised to send more children to school and SNV decided to partner with OLPC and host another teacher workshop in August. I never imagined that we would get such amazing results. Not only did the teachers learn more about the applications on the XOs but also SNV donated a computer,printer and internet for the school. SNV is even thinking about purchasing more XOs in the future. The teachers are also able to send e-mails to us now.
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Here are some of their e-mails:

THE SNV, CITY HARVEST, KIFICOM, OLPC AND E-LEARNING CONSORTIUM
The training done from 10th to 14th of August 2009 supported by the above departments has brought a significant change and encouragement to the trainees.All teachers from Asilong and Toroko with their chief became excited.
The Asilong members were presented a computer and modem by SNV in order to access internet and KIFICOM donated printer to enhance easy printing within the school. All this will promote E learning.
The attendance were happy and promised to share the knowledge with the entire community and become computer initiators. They will become seeds sown in pokots and marakwet society.
May god bless SNV, CITY HARVEST, KIFICOM, OLPC AND E- LEARNING CONSORTIUM(for peace will prevail)
By Nicholas Krop Lorikow FROM ASILONG
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I hereby joyfully thank your contribution [ELEARNING Consortium] training people say about computer I thought was like [sky was limit].
Your training encourages soul that already demolished about technology. I approved to put more effort for limit I have heard. My prayer to have one laptop one time, tears for harmony relay to volunteers of training [snv, elearning consortium, city harvest, and kificom for training , laptops and water to Asilong
My God bless you
Benson kitiyo—FROM ASILONG
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THANKS GIVING
I would like to say thanks to all those who took part in facilitating a one week computer training to Asilong primary school teachers at Eldoret.
To start with I can say the training was good and enjoyable one. We had the best teachers, who were not only good in training but also friendly and willing to equip us with their knowledge on computer
As we are going back to Asilong, I think all that we acquired throughout the training period will be of use to Asilong community. we promise the OLPC group that their donation will be of benefit to the community. We also dream of making Asilong the champion of ICT in the region and liberate the community from the negative attitude they have on child education, especially the girl child. Your donation of laptops has made the school to register an increase in pupils population.
summary my thanks and gratitude are to all the facilitators of the training. the donors of XO laptop, the donors of safaricom modem, the donors of the printer and desktop computer.
From SIKUKU KORIR EMMANUEL—teacher Asilong
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ASILONG PRIMARY SCHOOL COMMUNITY
I am happy to note that the need of Asilong problems is now available in the internet. City harvest, kificom, SNV really deserves great thanks. This school started in the year 2003 with little or no hope of progress, the school now has something to smile about because its future is being catered for, as a new administrator of the school I promises to learn the use of ICT and transform the school and the entire community to the world of ICT technology. With the use of laptop computers and other related computers provided to school, the school is going to be a computer literate and computer center in North pokot and perhaps the whole of north rift region.
From the head teacher Asilong primary
Mr. Francis Merireng
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This has been a break through for the tribe at North Pokot. At first they had no food, water, electricity and adequate knowledge- and now all the doors have opened up for them. Without the help from everyone, our team, our supporting parents, OLPC, UBC, City Harvest and SNV we never could have made it this far. I am excited to see what blessings the future brings to the tribe at Pokot. God bless!

-Sophia Worth

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Successful Deployment

When Pastor Edward,  founder of our NGO City Harvest Ministries, told us that he would like it if we deployed in Pokot our initial response was no.  No because we knew Pokot had no electricity, no running water, a language barrier and we weren’t sure whether they wore clothes or not.  6531_104585995885_542980885_2313813_3124769_nPastor Edward expressed a positive to every negative and we started to see that because of all those adversities, the students in Pokot needed us the most.  He said Pokot, being ten hours away and so remote, would not see technology for another twenty years if ever.  We decided at that point that it was not about going to the easiest place but going somewhere where we would make the greatest impact.

Today, done with our deployment and a month later, we could not be happier and really thank God for being with us every step of the way.   For the first time the people in Pokot have electricity, technology and support from their Minister of Parliament.  6531_104603740885_542980885_2313964_6223098_nPastor Edward told us that before our arrival, the MP had never showed any support for that particular region.  While we were there, he visited us twice, expressed his gratitude and said he would help the area.  We also gathered the community on two separate occassions and spoke to them about the importance of education and they all promised to put at least one more child through school.  I specifically asked them to allow their daughters to go to school and explained that if it were not for my education; I would not be there helping their community.

We bought several medical supplies in case we got hurt but ended up using them all for the people.  It all started when I patched up Achia, who had a wound so bad his bone was visible.  After that incident, Alex and I were treating 3rd degree burns, scrapes, sores, fungus and all sorts of things.  There is no clinic or hospital in Pokot so when someone gets hurt or sick there is nothing to do but put tree bark on it or just wait until it heals.  We treated at least 5 people a day and we made sure to tell them how to prevent some of their issues.  They lacked basic knowledge such as the importance of hygiene and avoiding infections after getting minor scrapes or burns by keeping the area clean.

Sophia and I also really worked on empowering the girls. 5572_551009740725_82408071_32864194_204562_n At first, they were reluctant to open up so we told them to ask us about our backgrounds.  They were amazed at how much we had in common with them and after that they became more talkative and started asking questions pertaining to our chosen topic of the day.  It was amazing to see every single one of them raise their hand when we asked who wanted to go to college.

A topic of concern towards the end of our project was sustainability and God answered our prayer by bringing us SNV.  SNV is an NGO that helps lead other NGO’s into directions where they are needed.  So for example, if they see a community in need of a water supply instead of going in themselves, they will find an NGO with expertise in that area. 6531_104603755885_542980885_2313966_1806750_n Right now SNV is working on a way to introduce e learning to schools’ curriculums.  The key is really to train and teach teachers  that e learning is essential in a world where technology is rapidly moving forward.  They will find students who are more eager to learn like we did in Pokot.  SNV offered us their support and promised to take all the teachers in Pokot to the city and have them properly trained on the XO’s.  We also have City Harvest Ministries’ support and they will periodically send people to make sure the guidelines we established are being implemented.

I am so grateful to have had such an amazing experience and  can not imagine having gone anywhere else but Pokot.  I know God has been with us because everything worked out so wonderfully. 6531_104336710885_542980885_2310965_7003849_n We had so much support coming from different places and we will always think of the people in Pokot as family.  They took us in from the moment we arrived and saying goodbye was so hard for all of us.  We will miss the children singing, teaching and sitting by the fire talking about our different cultures.  I learned that we are more alike than different.

Leila

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I’m a Survivor

Teacher training has been going very well. We decided to keep the teacher training all throughout the time we are spending at Pokot. Right now they are learning about Scratch (which has to deal with animations) Chat, and Measure. 6531_104336725885_542980885_2310968_7454799_nThe older teachers are still having problems with clicking and dragging items on the laptops while the younger teachers have already started teaching their students different programs on the XO’s. We were able to saturate the entire 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and the 6th graders at Asilong Primary school. We gave them their assigned laptops and divided them into two groups. We have the 2nd and 3rd graders together and the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders together. 6531_104585970885_542980885_2313809_3089779_nWhen teaching the younger group we found out that it was rather difficult because we had to go through each program and each step over and over and over again. They couldn’t even type their own story using “write” so instead we started out with them just typing out the alphabet. The older group however, was able to grasp the concepts of the programs. They are doing very well with each of the assignments we have given them.
Africa 253Our goal for this next week is to let the children take full responsibility of their laptops. They will be able to sign them out and take them home, charge their laptops at the school using the Charging Schedule, and to start an after school program where the children can decide what they want to learn.
We had a meeting with the parents which was successful. Even though they are very traditional they were excited that we brought this new technology to their tribe. We let them look at the laptops and we took pictures of them using the XOs. They want their children to learn more about the lap tops so in turn the children can teach their parents. We are having another parent/teacher conference this Thursday, the 16th.
6531_104585965885_542980885_2313808_7947913_nBesides our priorities we have been able to dance with the tribe, sit in the back of a chicken truck, fix up the children using our first aid kits, climb Mount Sequot, see a chicken get slaughtered, and eat 2 small meals a day. Leila, Sharon (our NGO Representative) and I have started a Girl’s club. We meet everyday and talk to the women about hygiene, equality, and education. We want them to know that women can have a future besides being a wife. They tell us they want to wear pants but they are scared to be beaten. They also tell us what they want to be when they grow up. We want them to have a safe place where they can express their concerns, fears, and hopes.

It has been a very interesting trip to say the least.

-Sophia

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Teacher Workshop Week 1

This has been an adventurous week. When we first arrived we had no sleeping bags so we slept on rocks for about a week. We had no running water so in order to take a shower or cook we had to travel to the well and fetch buckets of water. 6531_104336680885_542980885_2310961_2303349_n>There are no toilets, just an outhouse. There is no electricity so you must get everything done before the sun sets. Cory slaughtered a goat and we were able to feed the whole community. The women here are treated like property. They are circumsized and have their bottom teeth pulled out. They fetch the water, cook, clean, tend the children, plant, water the plants- basically any chore you can think of. The men sit on their “special chairs” made out of wood under the shade. They sunbathe naked and have many wives. They are very lazy and it makes me sick to my stomach. If a woman gets caught sitting on the “chair” they are beaten and must sacrifice one of their goats.
I can’t be totally pessimistic, education is improving, and will be even more with the XO’s OLPC has donated. More girls are being allowed to attend instead of getting married when they turn 13. 6531_104592125885_542980885_2313869_4809338_n
We started teaching the teachers about the XO and its programs from 3pm to 5pm every day. The first day was very fustrating because they could not grasp the concept of the mouse. It took about 30 minutes just for them to get a hang of clicking and dragging the mouse. We started with record and write. Then we tried to get them to copy and paste a picture into write and illustrate a story- big mistake for the first day. Each day got better and better. The second day we taught speak and wikipedia which they really enjoyed. Then we taught them memorize and calculate.
6531_104336690885_542980885_2310963_4295462_nThey made their own memorize game by matching a swahili word with an english one
i.e. Jambo-Hello Asante-Thank you. We moved on to ruler, implode, and moon activity. We have accomplished so much in only four days. We decided that we will start teaching the children in the morning and continue the teacher workshops from 3-5pm each day. I also decided that I am going to start an after school program where we will go more in depth with the XO’s so that they will fully understand the functions. Some of the OLPC team have become full time teachers- they have taught english, science, and of course computer science. The solar panels we installed are a huge success and we were able to also put in a light so that the children can learn at night.

All is well!

-Sophia

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Asilong Primary School at Pokot

The school in Pokot is very different from the schools you find in America. First of all, to build a school they use pieces of wood for the frame, then they put the mixture of of cow dung, water, and dirt over the wood. The desks are long wooden benches with a slab of wood for the tables. There are little chalkboards in each of the rooms. They have levels 1-6, along with books for each grade. The books however, are very outdated and most of the English books have mistakes in them.6531_104585985885_542980885_2313811_3660641_n Some of the children actually live near the school in these little houses (like a dormitory.) They sleep on the floor without pillows and blankets. When they wake up they eat porridge and head out to school around 8am and get out at 3pm. There are 8 teachers total, including the head master. They are very excited to learn about the XO’s, most of them have never seen a computer before. Each teacher has at least 2 to 3 subjects that they teach. They have science, social studies, mathematics, swahili, english, and religion. Most of the teachers do not have teaching certificates- just a diploma from high school. The kids are very happy to see us. They always stare and say “Karam” which means good in Pokot or they say “how are you, how are you.”

-Sophia

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