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Takaungu Team, University of Washington & The New School

Junior Community Health Worker Program at Vutakaka Junior School, Takaungu, Kenya

The Takaungu Team is a group of three graduate students from the University of Washington and one from The New School in New York. We are proposing to use the XO laptops to launch a Junior Community Health Worker program at the Vutakaka Junior School in rural Takaungu, Kenya. We will be working with the East African Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children (EAC) that founded the school in 2004. The EAC also runs a community center and health clinic at the site. We have a close existing relationship with the EAC and are planning a project that will become a sustainable program, ultimately directed by Vutakaka teachers and students.

Takaungu Team Members

Name Affiliation Email
Breona Gutschmidt University of Washington, Educational Communication and Technology, '11 breona@pendiva.com
Jen Hill International Affairs, The New School, '09, U.S. Board President, East African Center jhill@eastafricancenter.org
Cecilia Jezek University of Washington, Library and Information Science, '09 tcjezek@u.washington.edu
Emma Nierman University of Washington, Social Work, '11, East African Center enierman@eastafricancenter.org


Takaungu Team, University of Washington & The New School Junior Community Health Worker Program at Vutakaka Junior School, Takaungu, Kenya

Takaungu Team Members Breona Gutschmidt, University of Washington, Educational Communication and Technology, '11, breona@pendiva.com Cecilia Jezek, University of Washington, Library and Information Science, '09, tcjezek@u.washington.edu Emma Nierman, University of Washington, Social Work, '11, Director of Education Programs, East African Center, enierman@eastafricancenter.org Jen Hill, International Affairs, The New School, '09, U.S. Board President, East African Center, jhill@eastafricancenter.org


The Takaungu Team will use the XO laptops, funding and training to launch a Junior Community Health Worker (CHW) program at the Vutakaka Junior School in rural Kenya, in conjunction with our NGO partner the East African Center for Women and Children (EAC). The Junior CHW program will not only serve the students but will also provide a model and training ground that the Vutakaka teachers will be able to use as a springboard to continue programs of their own creation in the future. The students, from standards 3-5, will become agents of change in their community as children and throughout their lives.

The Vutakaka Junior School, located in remote Takaungu, was established by the EAC as part of a community center that also includes a nursery school, a health clinic, a farmer field school and adult education programs.

Unlike surrounding schools that typically have 200 students in one classroom, the Vutakaka Junior School has small class sizes of 30 that are ideal for piloting laptop saturation. Classes are conducted primarily in English, and while there is a school break for the month of August, most students choose to attend optional classes. The highly-engaged teachers have requested more opportunities for science and technology education, as well as more training and curricula that takes their teaching to the next level and that challenges their students with out-of-the-box thinking about real-world issues. The teachers have successfully led HIV/AIDS education and Red Hand projects, and have asked for more programs like these.

The Junior CHW program will utilize classroom-based and field-based activities that are integrated into the students' school day. Students will work together in teams, paired with an adult community health worker. Each group will select a health topic that affects the community for further inquiry, and will use the XOs to research their topics via the Internet. Working with their own laptops, the students will collaboratively develop a multi-media presentation. Students might choose to write a song using TamTam Edit, perform a skit and record it on video, combine audio and visual elements in Scratch, create a slide show with graphics, charts or photos or model the spread of disease using Etoys, for example. A wiki will be used to share what they've learned, and ultimately student groups will go out into homes in the community to use their presentations as a means for generating discussion. Finally, the students will return to the classroom with questions for further study, feedback on the experience, and data to track and chart. The emphasis will be on student discovery—of information, tools, technology, means of expression and communication, ways to work together, the XO's capabilities and their own capabilities.

In order to ensure that this project will be successful, the funding from this proposal will primarily be used to build a secure, wired classroom, bring electricity to the school, purchase additional hardware, and pay for Internet, as well as defray some salary costs for a technology lead teacher and fund travel between Takaungu to Kigali for the team and two teachers. The EAC is a strong partner in funding and will continue to support the project, and our team has already engaged in further fundraising.

The Takaungu Team has the field experience to successfully deploy this project. We have a high level of technical ability and educational expertise and are fully capable of setting up the school server and XOs. We speak English and basic Swahili. Two or more of our team members will be able to attend the training in Kigali and stay in Takaungu for ten weeks or longer. With one G1:G1 XO accessible to the team already, we are familiar with the hardware, software and curriculum. The Takaungu Team has existing relationships with the EAC and the community in Takaungu, relationships in which the community leads the way.

Dedicated to creating a sustainable and locally driven program, the Takaungu Team will continue to support XO integration at the Vutakaka Junior School by providing ongoing curricular planning and technical support (including XO end-of-life planning) as requested. Once we return to the U.S., the EAC has agreed to pay for their local on-call tech support person to provide tech support that the students and teachers might need that cannot be addressed by us remotely. We will also continue to work with the EAC to raise funds to maintain the program and purchase laptops for future classes.

Takaungu Team Bios

Breona Gutschmidt

Team Lead, University of Washington, Educational Communication and Technology, '11, East African Center Volunteer, breona@pendiva.com Website: www.pendiva.com Curriculum Vitae

Breona has spent the last several years working in the technology and education field and will be pursing an MEd in Educational Communication and Technology at the University of Washington beginning this fall. Among other projects, she has written and edited multimedia curriculum for an educational software company called Apex Learning, and she spent several months in Takaungu, Kenya in 2004, implementing a youth and technology project for 12-18 year-olds. In addition to teaching, her work in Kenya included writing a beginning computer user's workbook, setting up and troubleshooting hardware, software and Internet connectivity and serving as temporary director of the Vutakaka Center. She has a B.A. in creative writing and has worked as a writer and editor at companies including Microsoft and the Seattle Art Museum. She currently works as an Information Specialist at the University of Washington.

Breona enjoys exploring questions of how new software and hardware will be implemented and developing curriculum tools for new and emerging technologies. She is particularly interested in the intersections between education, technology and creative expression and education, technology and health.

Breona is passionate about creative and empowering education as a way to better quality of life and health for students in the U.S. and abroad; as a way to foster positive economic, social and political change; as a way to enable young people to build confidence; and as a way to encourage strong future leaders and problem solvers.

Jen Hill

International Affairs, The New School, '09 U.S. Board President, East African Center, jhill@eastafricancenter.org

Media: Jennifer_Hill_Resume.pdf

Jen is receiving her Master's degree in International Affairs from the New School University and her Bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology from Ohio University. At the New School, she worked on various projects including an analysis of the UN's new One UN program in Tanzania and Vietnam from a gender perspective. Jen also worked as an Outreach and Communications intern for African Refuge, a non-profit organization addressing the needs of the Liberian refugee community in New York.

She began as a Development and Communications Intern at the EAC in Takaungu where she also taught children at the after-school program. Since then, she has taken an integral role in developing our sponsorship program and administering our new website. As the Board President, Jen focuses on strengthening the relationship between donors and the organization as well as fundraising on the East Coast. Her professional interests include governing international emergencies and security in post-conflict settings, and she is pursuing a career assisting with humanitarian emergencies in East Africa. She has experienced the positive impacts of the EAC's programs in Takaungu and is honored to support the organization.

Cecilia Jezek

University of Washington, Library and Information Science, '09

Cecilia has a BA in Sociology from Amherst College, where she ran the campus radio station and volunteered at the public access television station. After college, she taught video production to youth and worked on various media literacy projects. She currently works at the UW Libraries Media Center where she does web and collection development. She is receiving her MLIS from the University of Washington's iSchool in spring 2009. Her studies focus on new technologies and how they can be used to improve information access. She has a passion for exploring the relationship between libraries and social justice.

Vutakaka Junior School

Vutakaka Junior School

When the EAC asked the community in Takaungu how the organization could best help the community, they were asked to start a top-notch professional Nursery and Primary School. The EAC opened the Vutakaka Junior School on January 6, 2004, and it quickly filled to capacity.

Today, the Vutakaka nursery school serves students KG 1-3, and the Vutakaka Junior School serves students in standards 1-5 (equivalent to U.S. grades 1-5). The school is staffed by instructors from the local community and assisted by volunteers from around the world.

East African Center for Women and Children (EAC)

The East African Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children (EAC) is a non-profit organization that helps communities achieve empowerment by increasing literacy for women and children, improving health status, and eradicating poverty. Read more about the EAC and its work at www.eastafricancenter.org.

The EAC's 2009 goal is to improve and expand the community health worker program, make more sustainable and self-sufficient, bring the community health work to neighboring communities and incorporate children into the program. The OLPC laptops will provide the catalyst to launch a junior community health worker program.

Takaungu, Kenya

The Vutakaka Junior School is located in the rural Takaungu sub-location on the coast of Kenya. Most of the people served by the Vutakaka Center live on less that $1 per day and engage in subsistence farming and fishing. Most people did not have access to basic health services until the Vutakaka Center's health clinic opened in 2006. Only about 15% of the women in the area can read.

Vutakaka Center

Adjoining the Vutakaka Junior School, a community health clinic serves the basic health needs of the Takaungu area. Staffed by a registered nurse, the clinic treats wounds, malaria and other common diseases; tests patients for HIV/AIDS; and offers pre- and post-natal care to hundreds of women in the community. The clinic also supports eight community health workers who make home visits to educate and provide health services and referrals.

Community Health Workers

Started in September of 2006, one of the EAC’s most effective programs is the Community Health Worker program. Extensively trained, 8 Community Health Workers go door-to-door in the community, referring patients to the clinic, and sharing health and medical knowledge. The CHWs share information about pit latrine construction, safe food handling practices, safe drinking water, general sanitation and hygiene, and how to prevent malaria. They also see pre- and post-natal clients at the client’s home, and refer them to the clinic or hospital if needed.

The CHWs contribute to the EAC's outreach days, traveling with the nurse and free drugs from the government clinic to offer treatment and education to people in areas without proper medical services. The CHWs also hold a twice-monthly growth monitoring event, weighing and assessing the health of children under 5 in the community. In 2008, the CHWs saw 2341 children for growth monitoring services, offering the mothers tips on keeping their children healthy, and referring underweight children to our clinic. The CHWs also run a nutrition clinic each month in a different village, teaching mothers how to make a nutritious porridge to feed their children, using local supplies like sorghum, millet, peanuts, and oranges.

The CHWs receive ongoing training from the nurse so that they stay updated on the most current health information available. The CHWs have also started attending the district hospital’s free trainings, and the EAC is working in conjunction with the Kenyan government's Community Health Worker plan. The EAC's goal is to further train the CHWs and eventually expand these services to more under-served areas by training new CHWs.

Integrated Lessons

Integrating the Junior Community Health Worker program into the regular school day, and having a dedicated classroom so that this is possible, is critical to equality and inclusion. Students who attend the school are predominantly Muslim and Christian. Muslim students attend Madrasa after school and on Saturdays. Christian children, generally from poorer families than the Muslim children, typically work in the fields after school and attend church on Sundays. Therefore, a program that is part of the school day is the best solution for this community and will allow the most children to participate.

Technical Support

While in Kenya, we will provide comprehensive tech support and will teach students and teachers to perform as much of the laptop maintenance themselves as they can. Once we return to the U.S, we will continue to be available remotely to answer questions, connect students and teachers with resources and provide troubleshooting. The EAC has agreed to pay for their local on-call tech support person to provided tech support that the students and teachers might need that cannot be addressed by us remotely. When laptops reach their projected five-year end-of-life, students and teachers will strip the laptops of parts that are useable for fixing other OLPCs. We will work with local computer repair companies and use the Seattle-based organization Basel Action Network as a resource to arrive at the most economical and ecological option for laptop disposal/reuse at that point. If this requires shipping or safe disposal fees, we will cover those costs.

Learning Support

Our goal is for the teachers to use the Junior Community Health Worker program to familiarize themselves with the laptops, the teaching philosophy that surrounds them, and ideas for how to facilitate a project, so that they can lead their own projects in the future. To make this easier, we will be on tap to provide curriculum development or guidance as the teachers request it. We are also planning to send videos introducing teachers to new OLPC applications and functions as they become available.


So far, we have confirmed funding for classroom furniture from the West Seattle Rotary. Our student team will also have a table at the annual East African Center fundraising auction in May where we will demonstrate the XO and explain the program to attract donors. We are currently exploring other funding leads, and are in discussion with the EAC about ways we can work together to fundraise in the future. We would like to provide ongoing funds for tech support, specific funds for safe and environmentally friendly laptop end-of-life disposal, funding for laptops for future classes (30 each year), and funds for materials such as sensors to support project ideas initiated by the teachers and students.