This July marked Project:CC’s second service trip to Kenya with Project Kenya and MSOE’s Servant Leadership. Our goal again was to bring a computer lab to a school in Kenya that would otherwise not be able to afford one. This year’s school was the Nyamome Primary School in Migori, Kenya.
A group of about 17 students and teachers traveled to Kenya for a two week stay. The group worked on many projects throughout the week we were in Migori. Several teachers on the trip spent a lot of time in the classroom educating and working with the students. Other volunteers worked on projects such as building new desks for the classrooms and a swing set for the school yard, helping to finish the new, donated kindergarten building, painting, and of course the computer lab. To set up the computer lab, we cleaned, painted the walls, built bench style desks, ran wire and installed outlets, set up the computers, and finally instructed teachers in using the computers.
Just like last year’s computer lab, the majority of the effort came before we even arrived in Kenya. First, Project:CC acquired all of the computers for this trip from the Wisconsin Rapids School District. They were older, but perfectly functional computers that would otherwise be recycled. Next, we cleaned and tested them to make sure they were working as expected. Then, we went through the process of wiping the hard drives and installing new software. This brought the computers back to a like-new condition. Instead of using Windows on these computers, we used an Operating System called Ubuntu, just as we do on all Project:CC computers. (www.ubuntu.com) Ubuntu is free, open source, community developed software. Unlike Windows, it runs well on older computers and does not require continuous maintenance to stay running smoothly. Because we were using Ubuntu, we were able to load the computers full of fun, educational software such as math and spelling games, 3D globes, calculators, office tools, and plenty of other good stuff for free.
Once we managed to get all of the software on all of the systems, everything tested and error free, then we just needed to get them from Wisconsin to Kenya. The Project Kenya group packed 15 computers, keyboards, mice, mouse pads, power cords, and LCD monitors in duffel bags and checked them as their personal luggage. All of this came from Project:CC except the LCD monitors which were either donated or purchased directly by Project Kenya. In the end, everything arrived safely in Kenya, and the computer lab was a success.
This computer lab will have a huge impact. As it is the first in the Migori School District, many people in the community have never used a computer. However, computer experience is needed if going on to a university or for many jobs. With all of the software being used, we are bringing more than computers to the community, we are bringing calculators, maps, and other tools they did not previously have access to.
We are already working on computers for the next trip back to Migori which will be in early March. We hope to continue to provide educational tools to great communities like these in Kenya. Thanks must go out to Project Kenya, MSOE's Servant Leadership, and everyone else who help make this happen.