Internet …to be or not to be?




Joke: Text to student in Arusha……….”Do you have Wifi there at your school?” Text reply: “No mama, I am single.”


Every year people in Canada ask me why I am not on Facebook with the KSF Tuition Project and every year when I arrive here I remember why. Sometimes the tech challenges and slow connections feel somewhat frustrating but here there is also a reprieve from our need to stay connected which I find pretty irresistible. This year I discover Airtel works better than Vodacom modems at Kilema. Oh well! That our kids are churning through novels here is just fine compensation.


Our computer project could not have had wings this year if not for Ricahard Corman, who donated , ordered, loaded and prepped 8 IBM laptops pre travel and taught assistant, Lockie Fraser, his systematic computer cleaning technique. Our carry on luggage weighed heavy and I thank our volunteer gang for jettisoning personal items in favour of  laptop weigh to insure that machines arrived here in a functional state. Each computer was slid out and x-rayed multiple times for airport security and never a problem there ……except for the guard who asked Solana……. if she had a jawbone in her back pack! After a great search it was found (a relic from another Manning Phillips outdoor adventure) and confirmed to be non human, an important pre-flight confirmation.



At Kilema  hospital some staff remain open to learning about computers but others seem indifferent perhaps because connection is spotty, costly and computers break down or documents lost when power fails and the battery no longer holds power. How many computers here have dead batteries, I wonder? In the hospital office the computer seems used by admin personnel and otherwise there is a kiosk which provides internet, photocopy, cash transfers through cell phones called IMPESA, all very efficient for a cost. Mama Bright there even gave some guidance on picture selection for the last blog. Only Sr. Matilde has come to the hospital for a lesson with Lockie and replacement of her dead battery. Where we seem not able to live without connection , it seems here people can live quite easily without.




We continue to develop labs at KYTTC Vocational School where Annie the computer teacher looks poised and radiant as ever. The new headmaster Michael Mtenga is forward looking, a previous visitor to Scarborough Ontario for a sugar trade conference, and has overseen expansion to block of classrooms and a new basic driving program all since last year. Warmly welcomed we visited the computer classroom and while sipping cold soda pop greeted students and reviewed computer scores, student files, exam papers. KYTTC continues to use the computers with the intent of the donors, for multistudent use. All the old desktop computers have been removed and numerous students hovered over the now 10 working laptops, power cords snaking into multi- adaptors on the floor and images of Harling Point- Tucker’s head and a snowy Chinese Cemetary- on screen savers Many thanks for the 3 computers given this year and greetings to Richard and David Crossley from Annie!









Just a few days ago we welcomed two young Canadians, Karia, son of Ted Rosenberg and Liza of Victoria and his friend Rory who are here volunteering in Africa. Curious to get up into the foothills of Kilimanjaro, we invited them to join us for the trip to Ifati and Rukima schools where the computer lab seems really to be taking shape. They arrived to us earlier than expected having navigated the Moshi dalla stand and close quarters with locals, then hopped on piki piki taxi’s (motorcycles) for the final dirt road to the hospital. We four mamas calmly informed the lads of the piki piki ward at Kilema where all manner of fracture and injury can been seen. Even Rose Minja ,HBC, says piki piki accidents here are over taking HIV deaths and are making road safety more tricky for everyone. Despite all that the fellows arrived exuberant and reported a great adventure at fairly slow speeds. After the usual ‘hurry up and wait’ our taxi arrived, driven by Tumiani in his cowboy hat (cow skin pattern) and brought us all to Ifati Rukima with perfect caution and air/con!

Both headmasters and computer teachers are well and the greeting goes…. Habari za siku nyinge? How are you since we last met? The computers from last year are working though there are 2 dead batteries. Last year the teachers focused on the older students in Form 4, now gone on, and teacher computer education. They also had the security measures put in place. We noted the bars on the windows and doors and the light, infrastructure costs which we split last year with the school an community paying 60% and KSF Tuition Project paying 40%. We discussed criteria for evaluation including; student computer files, exam ranking, student names who have had access and further donation would be dependent on that . We left 4 computers this year and a 5th, which had a faulty screen, is now being used for spare parts, it’s hard drive and battery salvaged for other computers. The school has 12 in total now and we are waiting to hear if the Jeff Kawzenuk and StephenTruelove’s Canadian student group from Ontario also at Kilema, will donate further laptops. Ifati and Rukima schools have nearly 500-600 students.





With the handful of new Form 4 students that were present that day Solana, Lauren and Lockie sat and began exploring the basics of computing with patience and boldness we were proud of. The computer teachers, Mr Kweko and Mr Gewe reflected on their amazing know- how. Karia and Rory who offered numerous suggestions for technologically appropriate programs, showed a creative flare for logistics. Karen, with her wonderful fascination of all things, explored wifi options and future possibilities for connection that may arise with advancements in the coming years. Our meeting concluded with a wonderful lunch of ugali, stew and sikumaweki (stewed spinach) and a gathering of Ifati students for photos, some speeches (sort of) and showing of the soccer shirts, soccer balls and schools supplies all given for donation by the Compassion Warehouse in Victoria.













I wanted to thank Mary Todd and her friends from England, Eric and Cindy, who donated a ASUS computer to Godfrey Nguma, a KSF Tuition Project funded math student at Mt. Meru University in Arusha. He has done sufficiently well to attract a half scholarship loan from the Tanzanian government. He was so happy to get the computer as well as funds for a modem from Mary and  learned quickly how to work it during a cafe tutorial with Lockie. We have heard from him already that programs on the computer are used in some of his classes. He was so pleased.





Asante sana wote!!



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