OLPC Pakistan, Report 2

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How OLPC impacted a slum area kid: case of Khayal Mohammad

By: Salman Minhas and Usman/Sohaib/Dhok Sarang

May 10, 2008


“My name is Khayal Mohammad, I am 14 yrs old and I belong to Afghanistan. Due to the poor economic conditions in Afghanistan, we had to migrate to our neighbor country Pakistan, five months ago. As we are not financially strong, we chose Rawalpindi’s slum area for our living and rented house there.

To battle the financial crisis of my family, I began to work. I got up at 4 am and went to a near-by fruits and vegetable market and sell fruits there. I continued this for sometime, till I found a local tailor who needed an assistant, so I also joined him as an assistant and began learning how to tailor clothes. I work in both the market and the tailor shop to earn money for the family and usually return from work at 10 pm. This is my daily routine.

In this slum area, I got some information about an evening school for poor Afghan Refugees, so I went there in order to get full information. In Afghanistan I had studied till the 5th grade and after having a discussion with the principal of the school, I was given admission in 6th grade here in this school. I got admission in the school, and attend classes from s2:00 pm to 5:00 pm daily.

My first day of school was very interesting. There were many similarities to my school in Baghlan, Afghanistan, but also many things were different. It was new environment with new teachers, new methods of teaching. I had heard that teachers discipline kids using big sticks just like the schools in my home country. And some teacher’s did beat the naughty students, but not so cruelly than those in my homeland!!! It was much better than my previous school.

In Afghanistan, I had a hobby: Painting. I used to draw and paint. I started drawing with pencils and after some time I began using paint to add colors. Soon my brushes became my best friend. I used my free time involved with brushes, papers and colors. In Afghanistan, it was hard to arrange brushes and paper for painting, but I used to save some money from my earning.

Since I have come to Pakistan, I have been really very busy in helping my family financially. Joining the school has made me busier, because I need to do my homework and revise the lessons studied in school, even though I have had no time to paint, my passion and longing for painting is very much still alive.

One month ago, we were studying in our class, and a young afghan man came to our school with another young Pakistani man and went to the principal’s room. After about an hour they left and the Principal came out excitedly, gathered all the teachers and students and told us that these two guys had come here and wanted to start some kind of laptop project here in our school and promised to give one laptop to every student of this school. We were really surprised and eagerly began waiting the day when these gentlemen may come again and bring us our laptops. We talked to each other about these laptops and wondered if this news was really real. Everyone was very happy.

As the moment came and the laptops were distributed among us. I was really surprised to see these magical machines. After school I took it to my home and started exploring it. Everyone at home also wanted to know what it was. I found really interesting activities inside it and for the first time in my life I used a computer and was able discover digital writing, painting and music, all in one machine. It was really surprising at first. But then I discovered how to write in it, draw or paint, and listen to music.

I was quickly able to learn how to write a document in the Write Activity, how to draw a table and insert it from the table contents. But mostly, I was really happy to see that this XO had given me a perfect substitute for my brushes and all other painting stuffs in the shape of Paint Activity. It was really interesting. I started on it. At firsts it was very difficult as I was not familiar with it, but I learnt how to draw some basic shapes and then explored it and reached to the point that now I can draw everything in this activity, which I was drawing by hand with my brushes and colors. Sometimes I think it is much better than the brushes and paints because if I make a mistake I can always correct it. Now my illustrations are more colorful than the previous ones. I will still keep using my paints and brushes, but I’m trying to use this paint Activity to express myself. My XO has allowed me to be creative and I can draw anything that my heart desires with it.”

Khyal’s Painting Gallery:

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