Half way down the East coast of Africa there’s a small island called Lamu. It’s no surprise to visitors that Lamu is a UNESCO world heritage site; this is a paradise on earth. If you wander down the narrow streets, avoiding the donkeys (no motorised transport on Lamu) and stumble upon the small main square, there is a wonderful site. Beside Lamu Fort (built in 1820) and the elders playing Bao, is Camara Lamu. The Fort and the island are pretty amazing, however Camara Lamu is better again.
Camara Lamu has the honour of being Camara’s first ‘sub-hub’. While Camara Kenya has been setting up computer labs in schools in the Mombasa region (65 completed and counting), two Kenyan lads set off for Lamu to setup the hub. One year on, each of the 10 schools on the island have Camara labs and now they are planning to spread Camara to the remaining 20 schools in Lamu district. These are two Kenyan volunteers who are working in their own community by using technology to improve education. The operation in Lamu includes an Internet Cafe, additional training and networking services; all to bring in revenue to sustain the schools they support. The magnificent facility has been offered rent free by a local business man in recognition of the work done for the community. Their most recent client has been Lamu Fort where the two hundred year old building has been networked. Plus this Saturday 40 local teachers will attend their Camara graduation in the Fort! Camara has merely facilitated the scenario where these two social entrepreneurs have thrived.
Lamu is an important stop on my trip. The next generation of growth for Camara Education will depend on the development of ‘sub-hubs’ so Camara can adequately service huge countries such as Kenya. The model is there; it needs tweaking and formalising and this will happen in time. In fact, Lamu is getting a peer in Bungoma where the next Camara Kenya sub-hub is nearly completed (over 1,000km away), however that’s a story for another day. In the meantime, if you are lucky enough to make it to this special island look out for Camara Lamu, use the Internet Cafe and say hello to Juma and Ali!