Last night 20 people attended the information session for Africa ’09. Maureen, Caitrina and John from Africa 08 joined Kirsty from the Dublin office and Ann (Belfast Coordinator) in the Belfast workshop to welcome the newcomers.
The interest and quality of the questions which those attending displayed augurs well for the ’09 programme.
Maureen, Caitrina and John shared their experiences of last year and Kirsty and Ann outlined what is involved in the programme.
Questions focused on the 50 hours of time that volunteers need to commit before going to Africa this can be broken down as follows:
20 hours in the workshop assisting in the refurbishment of the computers. This allows people an opportunity to get some hands on hardware experience and also to really understand the lifecycle of the computer which will end up in a school in Africa.

20 hours of training on ‘Skill Builder’ which is the manual to be used with teachers on the training programme. Volunteers will get an opportunity to become familiar with the software and the teaching programme. This will take place in Belfast and Dublin workshops.

10 hour on the Dtalk pre- departure preparation course in Kimmage in Dublin set to take place during the weekend of 13/14 June. This is compulsory and all intending to travel must participate. The two day programme covers the following – development issues – meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), living and working in another culture, keeping safe and looking after your health in the tropics.
Some people were concerned and rightly so about the fundraising it is a difficult task and while Camara can assist and support they cannot fundraise for each volunteer. People shared ideas about raffles, bag packing, fashion shows, company sponsorship and community based social events. The veterans made the point that often fiends, family and colleagues who cannot give up the time to go to Africa really appreciate the opportunity to be part of sending out someone from their family, community or workplace. It gives people real pleasure and satisfaction to say I was part of supporting that. So the message went out “do not be afraid to ask for support people do want to give.” Des and Noelle who had supported John and Ann in fundraising last year underlined this and said that was why they had come along to the information session.
This year it is planned to send teams of 12 to each of the seven partner countries, Lesotho, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Each team will be determined by the skills required, team coordinators, teachers, facilitators, technicians and networking experts.
I want to thank all who attended and hope they will get involved in the Africa 09 programme and have a wonderful experience.
Closing date for applications is 27th February.