The tenth anniversary journey was set to the KwaZulu-Natal region in South Africa. Our goal was to focus more on the education of teachers, learners and principals and service of the already existing computers. Still, 120 computers were sent and donated to several schools, along with some computers from last year that were still not distributed. In total, we visited 19 schools during three weeks, making hundreds of people able to use computers in their education.
We had an amazing experience in South Africa, surrounded by fantastic people both in the schools and at the Star for Life office. One thing we really noticed was that it was hard to follow the plans we made in Sweden, since every school had different needs. We had to analyse the needs of every single school and decide what to do on site. On some we just donated computers, for instance, and on some we had classes related to the them.
In addition to the CESA work, we did a road trip for three weeks from Cape Town to Hluhluwe and also a trip to the neighboring country Swaziland, making us stay in southern Africa for one and a half month in total.
Daniel Ahlqvist – vice-chairman
Matilda Horppu – treasurer
Hampus Dahlin – member of the board
The main ambition our year was to install 100 to 200 computers that were shipped to South Africa, but they got stuck in customs and was not released until after we left. Instead the focus shifted to supporting the existing computers, developing the education material and educate learners and teachers at schools. This was done successfully and the response was very positive. The computers were later distributed by Star for Life along with computer manuals that we had created.
We really loved the time we spent in South Africa and around Hluhluwe, despite all our troubles with getting the computers and not knowing what to do a lot of the time. We learnt a bunch about adapting to new situations and the people that we met were wonderful. We all wish to come back some day.
Simon Nielsen – vice-chairman
Elin Ljunggren – treasurer
Björn Hedström – member of the board
2015 was the first year that CESA brought computers to Namibia instead of South Africa, so we got to create new connections with the Star for Life office in Windhoek, Namibia. It was also the first year that we only brought laptops and no desktop computers, around 200 of them.
Our adventure began with a delay due to government requirements, during which we had to install Windows OS instead of Edubuntu on all computers. We then set out to nine different schools to deliver the computers and provide some education on how they could be used. Five schools in the capital, two in nearby cities and two in a very rural area 900 km away (super cool!). On the weekends we had the privilege to go on safari and to try sandboarding. The scenery was amazing.
Patricia Paulsson – vice-chairman
Oskar Nyberg – treasurer
Joel Torstensson – member of the board
In 2014, the main focus was to deliver and install donated computers for schools in the area around Hluhluwe.
While waiting for the computers to arrive, we revisited schools that CESA had been to in the past. We performed maintenance on existing computers and equipment, repairing and replacing broken parts in order to get them up to speed again. We also took the opportunity to evaluate how computers were used in education and trained school staff on basic maintenance.
The peak of our visit was when the 300 computers, with accompanying screens and equipment, finally arrived and we could set out to distribute them. We cranked up the tempo, visiting two to three schools daily in order to cover as many schools as possible.
The greatest lesson learned was probably that no matter how much you plan, unforeseen events will always turn up. Therefore it is important to always stay open-minded and think on your feet to solve problems in creative ways.
Robert Edström – vice-chairman
Marcus Olsson – treasurer
Anton Palmqvist – member of the board
The computers we shipped did not arrive on time. However, luckliy for us, some computers had not been distributed from the previous year which we were able to use. We were assigned ten schools by Star for Life to check the status of each school’s computer needs in the Hluhluwe area.
Each day, we went to schools that were close to each other in the same area. Our car had a stash of computers, computer mice, keyboards, monitors and thumb drives with anti-virus programs. We installed computers where they weren’t any and replaced computers that were beyond repair. In some schools we also got the chance to teach pupils to use computers for the first time and in other schools they had their own Computer Science teacher who had set up a curriculum for the students. We did a lot of repairing and installed virus scans in all computers to avoid future problems. For example, we encountered one computer with 10 000 infected files! The three weeks went by pretty quickly and will remain a memory of our lives.
Tobias Tikka – project leader
Jennifer Panditha – treasurer
John Hult – blog editor, etc.
With destination Hluhluwe, South Africa, the 2012 CESA crew arrived with great anticipation for the coming weeks and with a fresh batch of home-seeking computers (~300 units). Our focus during our stay was on the installation of the computers in rural schools as well as maintenance of those previously delivered. A keyword for this year’s expedition was “Ubuntu” – a Nguni Bantu term roughly translating to “humanity” – and the name of the free and open source operating system that were introduced in the project this year.
Despite challenges with everything from computer viruses to wildfires, we were able to set up computer labs in many schools and learned a tremendous deal about both ourselves and the intriguing South African history and culture – not to mention its amazing people!
Our year in South Africa was focused on maintaining and fixing computers already shipped to Hluhluwe by CESA members of previous years. There were roughly 100 computers of unknown condition laying around in a storage room at the Star for Life office in urgent need of attention. Apart from refurbishing and deploying those computers, we removed viruses and updated software on computers already installed at schools throughout the area. Red dust eats computer chips for breakfast, and we found that virus infected USB sticks at schools with no internet connection was a much larger problem than we could have ever imagined. We also held computer classes whenever we could find the time.
The best part of our trip, besides meeting so many fantastic people, was that we managed to fix and deploy so many computers to the schools – it really felt like we made a difference.
Viktor Ansund – vice-chairman
Carl Branting – treasurer
Niklas Lindblad – technical manager
During 2010 we installed 310 computers distributed across 23 schools, 16 of them in rural areas around Hluhluwe and 7 schools in Durban. When arriving the big job was to organise and setup all the computers that were donated, a challenging task in itself with limited Internet and power.
To be able to be part of enabling students of these schools to have access to computers was a fantastic experience, and seeing what they could do with these computers was sometimes mind blowing, from advanced Excel sheets to art produced in Paint(!) was staggering to see, and also showed us the importance of access to technology for these areas.
During the stay we had excellent support by the people from Star for Life, that really simplified our mission. And the excitement of the staff and students of the various schools was incredible.
The second year around, in 2009, the focus was to go to all the schools that had gotten computers the previous year, and educate the teachers and learners in basic computer skills. We also got to visit some additional schools all the way from the borders to Swaziland and Mozambique to schools in the city of Durban. Apart from education we also performed maintenance of the computers.
Since none of the computers were going to have Internet, we never thought of installing anti-virus before shipping the computers the year before. However it turned out that most of the computers were infected due to some USB sticks everybody was sharing. So when we weren’t teaching, we hunted computer viruses.
The most rememberable moments was to see the learners use the computers. Some of them had never seen a computer before in their entire life. There was a huge difference in computer knowledge between the schools. Some hadn’t even touched their computers since last year and it felt like some schools had teachers that knew more about those computers than we did.
We learned that in Africa you can make up as many plans as you like, but it’s not plan A, B or C that you will end up with, but rather G or X. Hakuna matata is the way to go!
In the beginning of 2008, the CESA project was initiated with the idea to contribute to computer knowledge in rural areas of South Africa. The focus during the first year was to ship and install high-quality computers and educate teachers.
As the first project team, we spent a couple of intense months planning and preparing how this could be accomplished in practical. In August, we travelled to Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal both nervous and excited at the same time. More than 200 high-quality desktop computers prepared with office software (and even an offline version of Wikipedia) had been shipped from Sweden to South Africa before we travelled.
With great support from our local contacts in South Africa, we visited more than ten pre-selected schools, both nearby and far away from Hluhluwe, and assembled computer labs from early morning to afternoon. The evenings were spent preparing for the next day and learning about South African culture!
The schools we visited were all different in terms of location, size and computer readiness. The majority of the schools did not have any existing computer labs. But one thing they all had in common was the excitement from the pupils and the teachers. In many cases the pupils wanted to start using the computers even before we were finished with the installation. For some of them, it was the first time they ever used a computer.
The highlight was definitely the people; the supporting people from Star for Life and all the amazing pupils and teachers, always curious with a smile on their face!
Caroline Odéhn fd. Gunnarsson