OLPCorps Hampshire Ethiopia

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Introduction

We seek to implement the One Laptop per Child project at Selamta Family Project in Ethiopia. Located on the outskirts of Addis Ababa in Bethel, Selamta is a community model for creating life-long families and repairing a social fabric that has been ripped apart by the AIDS pandemic, poverty and despair. Selamta was founded by Human Capital Foundation (HCF), a US/Ethiopia-based NGO, committed to providing a decent home and quality education to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.


Meet Jessica and Lelo

In December 2007, team member, Jessica Chapman volunteered at Selamta. A firm believer in learning by doing, Jessica encouraged the students to create linoleum prints, which she used to fundraise for the children’s school fees through a traveling art show showcasing the creativity and talent as well as the rich culture and life of the Selamta community. Since January 2008, the show has been on exhibit in five galleries including The Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, and Dartmouth College. Fellow Team Hampshire member, Mpumelelo Nxumalo, a Zimbabwean student studying Economics and Development was invited by the Human Capital Foundation to help implement the One Laptop per Child Project at Selamta, prior to learning about the OLPCorps Africa Program.


Bridging the Digital Divide

Notwithstanding the digital divide between children in the developed world and those in places like Selamta, OLPCorps Africa’s mission will serve a big purpose in stemming this incubating form of inequality. Our aim is to help expand the possibilities by allowing the children to engage in project-based learning, collaborate with their peers through the mesh network, for example, and get involved with their local community. Because these children have been brought together from all over Ethiopia after losing a parent or guardian to HIV/AIDS, their sense of belonging to a community is detached from their daily lives. We will, through this initiative offer these children the chance to mobilize themselves within their new community and in doing so gain a new sense of belonging. Due to their unique experience of having been exposed to the realities of HIV/AIDS, the computer’s flexibility as a learning tool is crucial for these children in particular. Having lived on the streets, and having been denied access to education until moving to Selamta, the opportunity for them to seek the specific knowledge they want and need is imperative. The chance to express themselves and seek answers to questions about things they have seen and experienced will help build a new generation actively engaged in the development process or even HIV/AIDS awareness in their community. The possibilities are indeed endless.


Logistics

Timing for the project coincides with the children’s summer vacation, which begins at the end of June. Several children will be attending summer school for English language and computer literacy. The flexibility within our schedule and the direct link of the XO to the children’s summer school program will make collaboration very easy. As there are only 60 children at Selamta between the ages of 6-12 we will be partnering with Alpha Keranyo, the summer school.

Team Hampshire is able to ensure the maintenance of the project through the Human Capital Foundation. We will provide a comprehensive method to calculate the Total Cost of Operation (TCO) of the XO laptop, which the Foundation will use in budgeting for the maintenance of the computers. Our team aims to include in this process local university students namely Tesfaye Hurisa, who are willing to continue to be engaged once the duration of our stay is over.

Team Hampshire ascribes to the constructivist view that children learn best by doing and making instead of being force-fed information. As owners of one, we can attest that the XO will not only match both the learner in complexity, cost, and scale, but it will also facilitate exploring and discovering for the children at Selamta. We will aid the children and the development of their use of the computer by offering technical support when need be and by encouraging self-exploration of knowledge through projects, research ideas, games, and other interactive tools.


Project Team:

• Mpumelelo Nxumalo: Hampshire College ‘10 • Jessica Chapman: Hampshire College ‘11 • Abdul Solomon: In country liaison • Birhanu Hurisa: Translator


Timeline:

• June 08-17, 2009: Orientation in Kigali, Rwanda: • June 18-20, 2009: Travel to Ethiopia • June 20- August 22, 2009: In country (Ethiopia)

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