OLPCorps MtHolyoke Tanzania

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Team Composition

  • Hilda Barasa; A freshman pursuing International Relations, Economics and Urban Sociology. She has previously been to Tanzania for a month working with the Kilimanjaro Initiative - an NGO addressing the problems of East African youth in the urban areas by providing opportunities that enable them to take on constructive roles in their communities. She has also done extensive computer programming prior to joining college and is currently taking a course in Computer Science.
  • Caroline Waweru;A junior currently studying Economics and Complex Organizations with a focus on economic development in Africa. She has previously worked with Hope Babies Home in Kenya which caters for abandoned babies and the Dagoretti Childrens Home, also in Kenya. Caroline also co-founded a youth group- Servant Leaders Influencing Character through Knowledge (SLICK) Kenya in 2005. The group's mission is to influence Kenyan youth in making informed positive decisions out of the choices life has to offer.

Our Proposal

OLPCorps: Mount Holyoke College _Tanzania_Barasa

Overall objective: To enhance sustainable development in Tanzania by disseminating and imparting technological know-how on a diverse group of cognitive and abstract thinking children.

Project background and partner Recognizing that equitable development in Tanzania is undermined by prevalent poverty, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and lack of opportunities to advance quality education for all children, we are partnering with the UN Habitat Safer Cities Office in Tanzania with the support of the Prime Minister’s office to work with street children and orphans in an orphanage/children’s home in Dar es Salaam. We will work with the children aged 6-12 years for 9 weeks from June 22nd to August 22nd. The orphanage caters for the children by sponsoring their primary and secondary education after which it re-integrates them into society at the age of 18 by re-uniting them with their families, facilitating self-employment while others continue on to higher education.

Our work: Our project, which is two-fold, will be tailored around the Tanzanian academic calendar which has children in school in the months of June and August with a break in July. We will be working directly with the orphanage directors in late June to identify a conducive learning environment within the orphanage, train mentors on proper use of the XO laptops as well as draft a feasible working schedule for July.

The first phase of the program in July will commence with joint sessions where all children will be taught the basics of operating an XO laptop e.g. how to open and close it and its basic applications. This initial introduction will not only acquaint us with the children but will also provide insight on what appeals to them in making their education practical and not just theoretical. They will then be split into two age groups:

  • 6-8 : Since this group is defined by concrete thinking and are generally more interested in doing something as opposed to the outcome of it, we would spend time using scratch to story-tell, Etoys, record and turtle art but also encourage them to try out different features or build on their interests.
  • 9-12 : We will introduce to them the more advanced applications of the XO such as Write where they can tell their own stories, calculate, chat to enhance collaborative work between them, measure, implode and analyze. Most important of all, we will work at making them at ease with Browse which is critical because they are at the phase where they are daring to dream about their futures and this particular feature opens for them a world of possibilities.

The second phase of the program will be implemented in their school in August. We will work with the school administration at integrating the lessons learnt over the July period in their curriculum. The children will have an opportunity to review and incorporate what they are taught in school with the features of the XO laptop and discover for themselves their compatibility.

Impact on children The 6-12 year old groups of children think abstractly and tend to become immersed in subjects that are of interest to them. Their individual dreams for the future are shaped by their circumstances and environment. By building on this platform of the possibility of dreams coming true, we aim to show them that they can merge their future aspirations with the use of technology and virtual resources and be future agents of change.

The last week of the program will bring all the children together to work on a common activity culminating in a graduation ceremony. This event will reinforce the lessons taught as we officially transfer laptop ownership to the children.

Continuity and Sustainability: The UN Habitat Safer Cities Program has assigned Ms Martha Mkupasi and Ms Anna Mtani to work in collaboration with us during our time in Tanzania as well as co-ordinate and oversee the project after we leave. They will also handle the storage of laptops and equipment once we get to Tanzania for the duration of the project. Above all, we hope to instill a mentoring culture, where as the kids transition out of the targeted age group, they become peer mentors to the younger group.

Additional Funding: will be outsourced from the Mount Holyoke College through the Inclusiveness Initiative Fund as well as fundraising activities carried out through the Office of School Programs.

Communication: We are fluent Swahili which is the national language of the country.