by John Fitzsimons, CEO Camara Education

Three flights,18 hours and probably two hours sleep. The joy of modern travel is that you can leave Dublin at 5pm and be in Mombasa at 9.30am ready for the day. I need a boost however to get me through, with another flight to Nairobi scheduled for this evening. Some Kenyan coffee perhaps? An energy drink? No. There’s a Camara solution.

Camara Kenya CEO Masoud Ali (5th from left) with his team of Staff and Volunteers

Camara Kenya CEO Masoud Ali (5th from left) with his team of Staff and Volunteers

Stop 1. The Camara hub

I walk into the office and there are at least fifteen staff and volunteers busy working away in a space that would normally fit five. In the workshop there is a Cisco training course underway with over 20 students and volunteers learning how to ‘crimp’ network cables. It is a throwback to my first job in my uncles’ computer cable company. We carried on into the training room and again there are more than 20 teachers learning our SkillBuilder course. I have visited our hub in Mombasa at least 7 times over the past four years and every time I see progress. Camara Kenya must now be the biggest and busiest hub in the Camara network.

Tononoka Secondary School, Mombasa, Kenya

Tononoka Secondary School, Mombasa, Kenya

Stop 2. Tononoka Secondary School

To further lift the energies, we pop across Mombasa to Tononoka Secondary School. We hot foot it straight into the eLearning Centre and there are about 30 students all typing away. Some are writing fictitious job application letters, others are working on their autobiographies! Again I am struck by the impact of technology in education. These students are officially in their Computer Studies class; however they are also gaining Digital Literacy, not to mention improving their English. In the middle of the room are approximately 15 computers sitting idle. These new computers came from the Ministry with the Windows operating system however they are not working. This reinforces a lesson we learned early in Camara- Supportability is key. The highest spec PC is no good if it is not functioning. We arrange to repair these PCs and if software problems arise, we will load the Camara image. With these functioning, they will have a very impressive 40 PC lab, the envy of many schools.

Stop 3. Down to business

Camara Kenya Board (Back: Peter Gitau, Philip McAllister, Evans Ikua, Masoud Ali. Seated: Lars Smith, Veronica Too. Apologies: Fatma Nabhany, Mohammed Askul).

Camara Kenya Board (Back: Peter Gitau, Philip McAllister, Evans Ikua, Masoud Ali. Seated: Lars Smith, Veronica Too. Apologies: Fatma Nabhany, Mohammed Askul).

With energies refreshed, the rest of the day consisted of a planning session for a significant project we have coming up in Kenya (details to be released soon), and the second Camara Kenya board meeting. We have a really impressive local board now, matched by a fantastic local team. Camara Kenya is validation that the Camara model works. On to Nairobi and then Tanzania, the bar has been set high.