A huge thank you to all of you who participated in Flora Mini-Marathon. You raised €18,118.62. This amount covers the cost of refurbishing and equipping 14 schools, or 2 schools in each of our 7 African countries of operation, with computer labs, educational software, and IT teacher training. On average each of these schools has about 500 children. In short, you all have directly improved the educational opportunities for 7,000 children. The seven countries, for which you raised money for, are Zambia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, and Uganda.
I have just returned from visiting four countries in Africa over three weeks. During my first week in Adama (Ethiopia), I learned of the extreme isolation of some tribes. The Hamar tribe, most of which lives in Southern Ethiopia, has not changed its lifestyle in thousands of years. Father Paddy and Father Kelly (Archie) are two Spiritan priests from Dublin who have spent the last five years working with the Hamar people. The Spiritans have established a computer training program in one of the few towns in the area. Through the work of Camara, we were able to give 11 computers to a region where only 6 Hamar people have ever completed secondary education.
In Zambia, many students will not complete their primary school until the age of 16. These students are usually forced to drop out from classes for several years to work and make money for their families. However, the Headmaster of a government run school in Kitwe is working with Camara to change this trend. The Headmaster has just converted a classroom to a computer lab containing 25 Camara computers. He is totally committed to making every child computer literate by the time they leave primary school. This is Camara’s slogan in action: Technology. Empowering Education.
Just when it seems like Camara is doing something that makes a real difference, something inexplicable, arbitrary, or short sighted happens which causes me to stop dead in my tracks and question what I am doing. For instance: a week before I arrived in Ethiopia, a group of thieves working through the night had used hammers and chisels to break through two walls into a lab and had stolen 2 laptops and one flat screen monitor. Unfortunately, one of the laptops held all our ICDL testing software which meant that that program had to be suspended.
However, Africa is not for the faint of heart. It is not for those seeking short term victories or easy solutions. It is not for those looking for a pat on the back from an adoring public or for those who are afraid to fail, again and again. It is hard work, it is frustrating, and it sometimes wants to make you cry. Yet, the gratitude from the infectious smiles of the African people make all of my work worth while.
I am continually grateful for the amount of support and generosity shown towards Camara from its volunteers. Your participation in the events sponsored by Camara inspires us to keep pursuing our goal of bringing Africa into the realm of 21st century education. I hope to see your enthusiasm in our cause for many years to come.
Congratulations to Barbara Dooley on winning the Kenya Prize Draw. Barbara will travel to Mombassa, Malindi and Lamu Island in Kenya to see what Camara can achieve with the help of you and others.