Justin and I woke to to a porridge and banana breakfast with a cup of tea fit for a king. Our room was made aware of a local niteclub last night but the trade off was in our favour as Claire’s room on the other side of the seminary was beside the chicken and duck house. She had lots of little friends chatting outside her window from 6am. They were probably wondering where 3 of their posse were and why we didn’t need to ring for a takeout for last nights meal.
After breakfast, Fintan brought us to Masabuka teacher training college in Galaba House. There are three rooms on the second floor with 20 Camara computers setup. Two full time computer training staff teach local teachers and business staff how to type using Edubuntus KTouch typing tutor.
All Camara computers are loaded with the Linux Operating System ‘Edubuntu’. It is a version of the highly popular Ubuntu distribution which Dell computers have started to ship out with their new computers in America. It offers a wide range of educational and practical software packages that are suitable for first-time users to advanced users. It is free to download and use from www.edubuntu.org and also comes with OpenOffice 2.2 which is the Opensource equivalent to Microsofts Office suite. This operting system is specifically designed for computers in Africa and does not use up a lot of computer resources like memory and hard disk space. It is extremely versatile and can be used on older computers that would otherwise be too slow to use with an alteranative operating system like Mac OS or Windows XP.
It is great to see schools using these free packages to train and teach basic computer skills; similiar to what we observed in Galaba House.
At noon we headed out to the Mission Hospital in Monze 90 minutes drive south of Masabuka. That hospital has 40 computers sent from Camara. There are 20 in the nursing school and 20 in the school of midwifery. We had tea with the acting Executive Director Dr. Mvula which means rain in his localities language. He didn’t laugh when i called him the raindoctor but he was extremely excited by the prospect of teaching local teachers how to use Opensource software. His excitement and enthusiasm were concreted when he switched on his dual boot computer and Ubuntu booted from the hard drive. Grins apperaed as the login prompt blinked. It was a great start. We then viewed some of the computerts in operation in the Hospital. The bad news is that the majority of computers were still in there boxes from the port but the good news is that their new facility will be setup and operation next Tuesday as our volunteers will be taking advantage of a national holiday on Monday to prepare the computer lab for the following Skillbuilder training program.
We booked the accommodation in Monze at a guest house located a short walk from the Hospital. It worked out at 10 euro per person per night whuch is standard for locals as Dr. Mvula helped negotiate the price with us. I didn’t look to push the price and there was a huge 14″ machete on the table in the main office where we haggled over the price. My curiosity to its purpose was matched only by the guest house chefs relief; he had left it down earlier and thought it was lost. The guesthouse is adequate and in a good location 2 mins walk from the main road in Monze and 8 minutes walk from the Hospital. Monze is a vibrant town which occupies its time serving and catering for the huge amount of road taffic that passing through to and from the capital. It can be described as red and dusty but not dirty.