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. The 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. When 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.
Our 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.
Besides 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.
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. >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.
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.
They 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!
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. 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.”
We may not be in such constant contact soon. Our deployment site, the Pokot tribe with which we will be living during the implementation and training, is more than a little remote. Just the sort of community OLPC should be involved with. Tonight is a bittersweet night for me. On the one hand, I am excited to begin our journey out to West Pokot to finally begin the grunt work on our project. On the other, it is the last major stage of my time here in Kenya. Throughout this month I have been privileged to observe and work with and learn with and from the others in this group. They have seen me at my most calm, happy, excited, fearful, and teary as I am likely to get in such a short time. They’ve heard me rave about my friends and memories from this place. They’ve courteously listened to me when I’ve given advice, whether they thought it sound or not. And together we’ve hammered out what initially appeared to be insurmountable problems in our way towards what we knew must be our deployment site. And yet, I’m not able to see it through the finish here with them. I will have to return from West Pokot, and from Kenya, earlier than they. Responsibility beckons. And yet I cannot only feel disappointed or envious, because I know that even without me the right thing is being done for a people who desire it to be done by and with them. I am honored to have been a part of this project, and I pray that my presence has helped advance our collective vision as far as it could in the time we’ve been together. All of you reading this, pray with me for us and on my return for Brandon, Sophia, Alex, Leila, and our gracious hosts at Karama House and West Pokot, that all of these may impact one another. And that these collective impacts network out from us even further from the good work which we are trying to do into all of the choices we are presented with, coloring and influencing them towards the good, the beneficial, and the appreciable. God bless.
On our way to the orphanage we stopped at Java house for Lunch. The food was delicious- great milkshakes, guacamole, quesadillas, and basically everything on the menu. Afterwards we took a taxi through Ngong, which is a little town where everybody knows everybody. We saw some of the Masai tribe tending after the goats. We even saw a spider monkey crossing the hilly dirt road. It was very lush and green- opposite of the savannah we traveled through yesterday on our way to Mount Kilimanjaro. We finally arrived at the orphanage and met the staff. When we went outside to play with the children all you could see was a group of kids running towards us. Especially Brandon and Cory, the children remembered them from last time. The kids guided us through their garden which had cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, and other vegetables growing. They even had a water system which UBC help set up. There were these two little boys who always wanted to be carried, Dupert and Otieno. Dupert was this adorable little toddler who was at first very shy. Slowly he would take a step towards me…one by one. Finally he came to sit on my lap and wanted me to pick him up and swing him back and forth like a rocket ship. The girls decided they wanted to braid my hair while the boys played soccer in the cow fields with Alex and Brandon. Afterwards we played hide and go seek and this game similar to dodge ball. It was almost impossible to leave, we had gotten attached to the children. I hugged and carried Dupert all the way to the taxi. When I put him down he stuck his thumb in his mouth and looked like he was going to cry- that made me want to cry. I just wanted to take him home with me!
Today was an extremely adventurous day. Oliver and Derick (deploying XO’s in Ghana) stopped for two days in Kenya so we got together to road trip to Mountain Kilimanjaro. We met around 8 this morning and headed out in the guys’ rental which was a Mitsubishi Lancer. Little did we know that the highway would be cut off and it would take us on the rockiest detour ever, needless to say we hit a few bumps on the road. I should also mention that it was Sophia, Brandon, Alex and I all in the back seat squeezed in like sardines. We got stuck in the sand, of course, and tried pushing the car, which made it worse and only ended up in us eating a lot of dirt. Other safari vans passed by and made sure to cover us in red dust and not stop at all. It was great. Finally, some construction workers helped us get out so we continued on our voyage to Mt. Kilimanjaro. The road started getting worse and we left a piece of the car behind but Oliver insisted we were ok. We drove for another 30 minutes after that and could see the mountain far ahead. We decided that was good enough, took some pictures and headed back because we feared the little engine would not make it any further if the road got any worse. After a few hours on our way back, Oliver said the brakes were out. That was kind of scary but he said they worked on the second pump so we thought, ok whatever we’re in Africa. When we got to the spot where we had been stuck earlier we saw a poor civilian in the same predicament so we had to pay it forward. The guys all mustered enough strength and lifted the car over their heads and placed it on flat ground. Well, not exactly lifted, but they got them unstuck. At this point we are exhausted and afraid the car has been beat up near its breaking point so we decide its only fair to get a car wash. It was the most environmentally friendly job I have ever seen. They barely used water but managed to do the most thorough car wash in history for the bargain price of three bucks. On our way back we also accidentally knocked someone’s side mirror Luckily we also settled that for the bargain price of 15 bucks. So all in all we drove for a total of 10 hours and had a wonderful day!! Yeah it was rocky but we saved ourselves 300 dollars, skipped the small talk with strangers (had we been on an organized safari in a huge van) and STILL managed to have a great experience! We saw nature at its most beautiful and natural state and took amazing pictures. We saw ostriches, donkeys, giraffes and mountain Kilimanjaro!! If there’s a lesson to be learned it is only to… take a Chevy.
the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.
And, that is just what we saw yesterday when we went to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. Part memorial part museum the center sits on a site where 250,000 people are burried. The mass graves there are a constant reminder of the cost of human ignorance. Walking through the exhibit you can see human skulls that have been crushed in and hear first hand acounts of the events that transpired as well a view other mass killings that have happened all over the world. The main purpose of the center is to educate people on what really happened ensuring that it never happens again.