Hello Again!

Our second week of working has come to an end, and we hope you had a great week, because we did!

We started our week by visiting Cwakeme high school. Our goal at this school was to check if their computers were working correctly. When we got there, all their computers were placed in a locked storage room, and the reason of this was because they did not know how to use them. And that’s why we are down here, not only to donate computers but also teach how to use them. So, we together with Phakamani, the deputy principal and some students carried all 19 of the computers to their computer lab and made sure that every one of them were working. Then we invited students, also known as learners, to the lab and showed them how to use a computer.

Lisa and Phakamani instructing students on how to use the software as well as the computer, many students had never touched a computer before.

As the computer classes were too large, and not every learner had a computer while taking the class, we felt very motivated to donate five of our computers. Seeing the curiosity and excitement for the teachers and students alike we are confident that together with the guidance for Phakamani the computers will be of great use from now on.

CESA together with the deputy principal and learners from Cwakeme high school

On Tuesday, we visited Hluhluwe public primary school. As this school already had many computers our goal for this school was to go there to see how many of them was working and try to fix those that didn´t and recycle the rest. We knew that we would only visit one school, so we expected a short day. But we were quickly proven wrong, there were a bunch of work to be done, but sometimes a lot of work generates large results. We managed to make 13 more desktops usable, which the teachers were very happy to see. On some of the computers, Offline Wikipedia was already installed. When we showed this to the teachers, they were very excited and started researching their subjects immediately. We also saw that they had a working projector in the computer lab, which they did not use since they did not know how it worked or what it was. As we explained, they were really excited to start using it during lectures and said jokingly that they would never use books again.

Axel trying to adjust the projector while Lisa was instructing the teachers how the projector works. dav

On Wednesday we visited Emabandleni high school. Since this was the school furthest from the Star for Life office, we were not very excited about one and a half hour car ride in 30 degrees with five people in the car. However, we were really excited about handing over the computers, since this school did not have any previously. This drive was worse than we thought. Halfway, the road changed from asphalt to gravel and sand. And the worst part was that almost every cow we came across acted like it was owning the road, and wouldn’t move until we honked.

Five cows (or robots as they are called by the locals) standing in a line, showing who owns the road.

Arriving at the school we got to experience what it was like to be famous for a day, as all of the students were greeting us and cheering, we could even hear some of them from inside the classrooms. After our little walk of fame we did a quick check of the computer lab. We decided that it was clean and fit for computers and therefore donated all of the 15 that we had brought with us. The school has been requesting computers from Star for Life for three years now, so it felt amazing to finally be able to give it to them and see how happy they were about it. 

Lisa, Peter, Phakamani and Sinenhlanhla, a coach from star for life. setting up the computers

After everything was set up, it was time for the fun part: demonstrations! We started with the teachers, who were very engaged, asked a lot of questions and came up with ideas of how they could use the computers in their particular subjects. It was really funny to see all of the strictly dressed teachers clapping their hands, dancing and doing high fives.

Axel explaining to a learner how to use Wikipedia

We also gave a demonstration to a few classes of learners, where many of the children had never touched a computer before. It was strange to explain to someone how to use a keyboard, and we realized that there is no good explanation of what “ENTER” does or exactly when to use it. However, they got the hang of it quickly and soon they were all deep into Wikipedia.

The students experiencing the joy from computers with the deputy principle, Peter, Lisa, Sinenhlanhla, and Axel at the back

After all that joy, we began the dreadful journey back to the office.

On Thursday it was time for another exciting journey in the car as we visited Ndabazamanina high school. It was a long and bumpy ride, and the road was like a rollercoaster, but after a while we finally reached the school. CESA 2018 visited this school last year, and donated 15 computers, so our main goal was to check if they were still working. But we still brought five computers with us in case they needed more. When we arrived we were greeted by the principal of the school, who brought us to their computer lab. We eagerly started up all the computers, and it appeared that all except one was working, and they were in great shape. As there was not much for us to do with the existing computers, and that they were short on 10 computers for their computer class, we decided to donate all the computers we brought, which were five.

Peter instructing the principals of Ndabazamanina high school

We rearranged the lab so that everything looked nice with the cables of the chargers, and then invited some of the 8th grade students to see their lab. (It was only grade 9 and up who has computer sessions).

We tried to fix the broken computer at the school but we lacked the proper tools so we had to bring it back to the office

We showed them what Ubuntu looked like and how to use some of the programs that was installed. Unlike the students yesterday, most of the students had encountered a computer once or twice before. They were certainly interested in offline Wikipedia and Marble (a program that shows the globe), and then of course in the camera program :) 

At least the view was nice when driving

On Friday it was finally time to visit two schools in one day again, we visited Msindazwe Combined Primary School and Bonga High School. We started at Msindazwe who received computers just last year. We went into their library where they kept their computers, and made sure everyone was working. The teachers we spoke to preferred the Windows computers they had, as they were unsure how to use the computers with Ubuntu. This motivated us to instruct them how it differs from Windows, and why it is equally good.

The teachers and principals of Msindazwe Combined Primary School trying out Ubuntu

In the afternoon, we went to Bonga high school. We had the same goal with this one as Msindazwe, to check on their computers. As we arrived, the school was already out, but the principal and some teachers were still there holding the door for our visit. We did’t want to drag out their day, so we worked as quickly as we could and made sure that their computers were working. We managed to make seven desktops usable again, after they were labeled broken.

A common thing that occurred for us this week, was that some of the schools did have basic resources for computer education, but did not know how to fully utilize them. This enlightens one of the important parts of CESA, to follow up on schools who have previously received donations, both from CESA and other sponsors. While we always give demonstrations and instructions on how to use the computers when we donate, it might be a lot of information to take in at once. Therefore, it is always important to revisit the school later on to see how we can help them further.

Did we forget to mention that Phakamani is part of SA Idols and have a bunch of fans at every school we visit?

And now our second week of work has ended, and the last week of work is upon us. This feels a bit daunting and a bit weird, because the weeks have gone so fast and it feels like we just began working. We all have been gone for four weeks now, and thinking about coming home and drive a car on the right side of the road is really scary.

But other than that, we hope that you all have an amazing weekend. Because we’re about to :)

Hear from us again next week!

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