Thursday, March 30, 2006


Well, it seems like one good deed just leads to another. Yesterday I wrote about Athletes for Africa , which I found through Africa Medical & Research Foundation , and today I'd like to tell you about Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR), that I learned about through Athletes for Africa.

CPAR works in partnership with vulnerable communities and diverse organizations to overcome poverty and build healthy communities in Africa.

Their Vision is that:

1. Everything is connected.

2. Without adequate forest cover, soils become depleted.

3. Without fertile soil, food production declines, and the threat of hunger increases.

4. Without secure food supplies and clean water, good health is impossible.

5. Health is created and sustained by the environmental, physical and social conditions that affect people living in a particular community.

It's clear that CPAR has a clear sense of the contextual nature of our social and physical environment.

The organization was founded by Canadian physician Mark Doidge in 1984. Dr. Doidge was responding to the extreme famine and poor health conditions faced by Ethiopian refugees who had been pushed by their harsh conditions into Sudan. And although it began as an organization initiated to engage in emergency relief work by providing food aid and medical intervention, CPAR evolved into an international development organization, committed to building healthy communities in Africa.

The majority of CPAR's work is focused on integrated health and sustainable development programs in the south-east region of Africa. This is because CPAR always has the notion of a healthy planet in mind.

Today, CPAR's projects are located in Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi and Tanzania and focused on developing primary health care, water and sanitation, income generation, peace building, emergency assistance, natural resource management and food security programs to help support vulnerable communities in Africa. These guys do not shy away from the tough jobs.

In the twenty years of existence between 1983 and 2003 CPAR has achieved quite a lot. Some of those achievements were:

Working with Ethiopian refugees in Sudan

Establishing a relief program in Ethiopia that came to include a rural development program

Initiating a Primary Health Care Project started in Lesotho.

Implementing the first CIDA-NGO Food Aid Project in Ethiopia.

Conducting an Emergency Food Aid Relief project that was funded by Band Aid.

Providing Earthquake Relief in the Philippines.

Opening a program office in Malawi.

I haven't made it halfway down the list yet, so you will have to read about the rest at CPAR's web site.

As I said earlier, CPAR's programs focus mainly in four African countries: Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi.

Since 1985 CPAR has been active in Ethiopia, first responding to the emergency famine relief efforts. Overtime, then engaging in long-term solutions to tackle food insecurity as well as community health and development.

Their program activities in Ethiopia include:

Disaster Preparedness
Income Generation
Food Security
Natural Resource Management and
Water and Sanitation Management

In 1990, the government of Malawi invited CPAR to work with communities in the country's central and northern regions. And today the organization undertakes the following initiatives:

Income generation
Natural Resource Management
Food Security
Water and Sanitation
Primary Health Care
Emergency Relief

As in Ethiopia and Malawi, CPAR has several programs working in Uganda. Since it was invited to work in the northern communities of Uganda by the Ugandan government in 1992 CPAR's programs have included:

Disaster Preparedness
Income generation
Natural Resource Management
Food Security
Water and Sanitation
Peacebuilding and
Emergency Relief

CPAR got approval to start operations in Tanzania 2000 and has been focusing on Water and Sanitation Management. There the project addresses safe water and sanitation in schools in the Karatu District and intends to improve the general health of school children in the area by reducing the burden of waterborne diseases in primary schools. CPAR also plans to improve the level of hygiene education within the community.

CPAR's Partners and Sponsors are listed below

Foundations, Associations & Non-governmental Organizations (NGO's)
Athletes for Africa
The Brumara Foundation
Alibhai Foundation
Bridge Street United Church
Ben & Hilda Katz Foundation
K.M Hunter Foundation
St. Peter Church Erindale
Fleming Foundation
Ryan's Well Foundation
Vancouver Foundation
Wild Rose Foundation
The Alibhai Foundation
Muttart Foundation
Rotary Club of Toronto Sunrise
Canadian Auto Workers (CAW/TCA)
The Stephen Lewis Foundation
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (SOGO)


Klasner and Solomon
The Forum Club
Future Shop
Cohn and Wolfe
In Kind Canada

Government Agencies

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA),
Bilateral, Multi-lateral, NGO,Youth Action Division, International Humanitarian Assistance
Apac District Government - Uganda
Canada Fund-Uganda
German Technical Development Agency
Gulu Dustrict Government - Uganda
Ministry of Health - Uganda

There is much, much more information about CPAR and what they do at their web page. It's an organization with a clear vision, an effective means of carrying out its programs and an impressive array of partners and sponsors. It would be well worth your while to give their site a visit for inspiration and some lessons on how great things can be achieved by organizations like Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


BToday, I continue writing about partners of organizations that I have written about previously. This time, I want to tell you about a partner of the well known and well respected organization African Medical & Research Foundation Canada (AMREF). AMREF's partner that I want to tell you about is Athletes for Africa

Athletes for Africa is a charitable organization that uses the power of sport to educate and engage Canadians in Africa's fight against poverty, famine and disease. It is also the brainchild of Adrian Bradbury, the sports information coordinator at the University of Toronto, who founded the organization in 2004. The organization says on its web site that Bradbury founded Athletes for Africa to bring "the plight of many Africans to the attention of the Toronto community."

Athletes for Africa is described as an athlete-driven organization dedicated to making a difference in Africa's most under-developed regions.

Here, I will quote liberally from Athletes for Africa's web site, because - to be honest, I cannot state it any more concisely than they have.

"Athletes for Africa focuses its infrastructure and development support on building sustainable communities.

"We recognize that there is no single solution for Africa, but the more resources and voices there are for its most under-developed regions, the better the chance its people have for a future that they control.

"The greatest gifts come from the organizations who are helping people help themselves. That's our aim.

"Our current efforts in Africa centre on battling the HIV/AIDS pandemic, providing water and sanitation solutions and delivering food security solutions in Africa's most underdeveloped regions. Those programs are being executed on the the ground through the African Medical & Research Foundation (AMREF) Canada, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR) and Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada. Along with these innovative groups, Athletes for Africa is providing support for long term solutions that empower.

"The infrastructure and development knowledge for Africa's future already exists and that's why we are focused on delivering programs on the ground through partnerships. Athletes for Africa aims to lead the movement in Canada towards these partnerships. More non-governmental organizations delivering projects in Africa is not the answer; cooperation is."

It is clear that Athletes for Africa gets plenty of respect because, not only does it have AMREF as a partner, but it also has some additional "heavy hitting" partners as well.

Stating that "Canada is already an international leader in development and infrastructure solutions;" this is what they say about their partners:

African Medical & Research Foundation Canada (AMREF)
AMREF's mission is to improve the health of disadvantaged people in Africa as a means for them to escape poverty and improve the quality of their lives.

Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR)
CPAR is inspired by the vision of a healthy planet and is dedicated to supporting vulnerable, low-income people in the developing world in their efforts to achieve good health.

Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB)
Engineers Without Borders promotes human development through access to technology. Its members are passionate about helping people gain access to the technology they need to improve their lives.

Because they believe that "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem," Athletes for Africa offers many different ways in which individuals or organizations can participate in their efforts. They call on people to:



Donate and/or Partner

Get Educated & Spread the Word

Just as athletes often provide good role models for youth, Athletes for Africa provides a good role model on many levels, and individuals (whether athletes or not) as well as organizations would do well to follow their example.

Check Them Out, Drop Them An Email, See If You Can Work Together Or A Project Of Common Concern. - Athletes For Africa

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Lately, I have been returning to focus on Africa Now and its many projects. This particular project in which Africa Now is involved involves elephants and chilli peppers. Now, this will take a bit of explaining, so I will let Africa Now do that and post their words below.

Project: Chilli Production and Elephant Conservation, Zambezi Basin

“Communities across the Zambezi Basin (in an area taking in parts of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique) are largely reliant on cotton as their primary source of cash. However, world cotton markets are subject to significant fluctuations, and the crop itself exhausts soil nutrients, which over time necessitates the use of considerably more land than other crops. This constant need for expanding farms into new land has placed the communities in direct conflict with wildlife and, in particular, elephants. With fewer natural resources to rely on, elephants frequently destroy crops, and communities have in turn been driven to killing elephants.

“Research conducted by communities and the Mid Zambezi Elephant Project (MZEP) has revealed that chilli peppers are a natural deterrent to elephants and other wildlife, as the animals find the crop unpalatable. Furthermore, burning low-grade chilli oil (essentially a by-product of the crop) drives wildlife away from the farms. Chillies do not exhaust soil nutrients and have a far higher price and a more stable market than cotton.

“In Zimbabwe, this project worked in conjunction with farmers, MZEP, and the Chilli Pepper Company and introduced chilli peppers as a cash crop within the project region. Africa Now is now expanding the project to Zambia, where we will continue to work with farmers to develop their ability to market chillies, and will develop farmer organisations capable of negotiating and securing trade with regional and international buyers.”

“Mention of the Chilli Pepper Company made me even more curious, so I decided to pay their web site a visit. There, the Chilli Pepper Company wrote:

Humans and Elephants: The Problem
Africa's human population is increasing at nearly 4% per year. African elephant populations have generally stabilised in the last decade, and are increasing in Southern Africa, yet continent-wide, only 20% of their range is formally protected. Increasingly, rural farmers and elephants share the same areas as rural agriculture expands and elephant rangeland is compressed.

In this situation elephants can cause widespread damage to a farmer's crops, and compete with communities for land and resources. Conversely, the conversion of woodland to farmland threatens the elephant's survival within many landscapes. Managing agriculture and elephants within the same area therefore presents a complex problem.

The Mid-Zambezi Valley
The Mid-Zambezi is a flat low-lying dry forest ecosystem that historically has been rich in the diversity of mammal and birds. People have been farming within the region over 400 years, but it is only recently that large-scale settlement has developed. Rural farmers have resettled the area in large numbers in the past 20 years, due to mounting land pressure in the rest of the country. The human population has consequently grown at nearly 10% per year, and agricultural expansion has been largely unplanned.

“The majority of the population is small-scale semi-subsistence farmers who grow maize, sorghum and cotton during the wet season. Dry season cultivation is limited to small gardens in the beds of the major rivers, where green maize and vegetables are grown.

“There are approx. 3000 elephants that range throughout the study area. These elephants utilize core habitats including the Mavuradona Wilderness Area (MWA), a 600km2 region in the Zambezi Escarpment, and the Panyame Wilderness area, Fig. 1 - click for a detailed view within the Zambezi Valley (fig 1). Elephants make long distance migrations annually between these two refuges, crossing densely populated agricultural land.

“Many RDCs in Zimbabwe have been granted the authority to manage their own wildlife under a national programme called CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Programme For Indigenous Resources). In both Muzarabani and Guruve districts all natural resources are managed through the CAMPFIRE scheme. Elephants provide the greatest proportion of all revenues to CAMPFIRE, and as such are the key natural resource. The RDCs are faced with a challenging task: balancing the requirements of rural farmers on the one hand, and a valuable wildlife resource on the other. EPD was established in Oct 1997 in response to a request from Muzarabani and Guruve Rural District Councils (RDCs) for management-based elephant information.

Conflict between rural farmers and elephants is widespread and common. Elephants raid food crops and grain stores, damage housing, and occasionally injure and kill people and their livestock. Their presence near villages can cause widespread fear, and has many secondary implications for rural villagers. Elephants compete with villagers for resources such as wild fruits and water. Farmers have to protect their crops at night, an activity that is dangerous, reduces productivity, and increases the risks of catching diseases such as malaria.

“It is widely accepted that rural farmers bear the costs of living with elephants, and receive little of the benefits. Even where community-based conservation initiatives exist, and elephants generate large revenues, little of the money is seen at the rural household level. Resolving conflict between humans and elephants is widely recognised as one of the most pressing wildlife management issues in Africa, because the costs must be reduced and the benefits raised if elephants are to persist in agricultural areas.

Crop Protection
Efforts to reduce conflict between rural farmers and elephants have centred around crop protection, and have included electric fencing, chemical repellents, disturbance shooting and traditional methods of chasing elephants. Rural farmers have many different traditional methods for protecting crops from elephants. These methods vary according to region, and include beating drums, cracking whips, burning fires and a variety of other noise making devices. These methods have had some success, but no single method has been entirely effective. High-tech approaches have maintenance problems and high capital costs. The effectiveness of traditional methods diminishes over time as elephants habituate to them.

“If they are to provide long-term solutions, methods for crop protection need to be financially and technologically within the capacities of the people implementing them. Community-based options for crop protection have good potential for sustainability, because they are co-developed with the farmers, and utilise locally available resources. In this respect they will be more appropriate than centralised or 'imposed' methods.

Habitat Destruction
Habitat loss has been identified as the factor that most threatens elephant survival outside protected areas. Farmers increasingly transform the natural landscape by clearing woodland habitat for agriculture. Elephants, while tolerant of human disturbance to some degree, are unable to survive when the natural habitat becomes dominated by farmland. It is therefore imperative that elephant habitat requirements are understood, so that land can be prioritised for conservation.

“The following activities are currently under way in the Mid-Zambezi Valley:...”

And here is where I will leave you. It’s not that I am mean or want to tease you, but I really want you to visit the web site of the Elephant Pepper Development Trust. So if you are interested in this problem you will visit them at the Elephant Pepper Development Trust .

One other thing I would like to mention about Africa Now is that they have two fundraising events coming up in 2006. They have a 10K run planned to take place in London on July 2, 2006 and a cycling trip planned through the Oxfordshire countryside later in the year.

Drop by Africa Now and see what else they have going on.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Almost a year ago I wrote about AFRICA NOW and the great things that they are doing. "AFRICA NOW Is About Business."

Today, I just want to take a few moments of your time and point to one of their currents projects: "Promotion of Rural Technology, Kenya" (PORT). And rather than give a long discourse, I am just going to quote Africa Now in what it says about PORT.

"Western Kenya as an economic region is characterised by isolation from urban markets, high outwards work-migration and insecure cash incomes from cotton, fishing, and sugar. Communities have limited access to available technology options, and to information about their strengths and weaknesses. A past record of poor purchasing decisions has reinforced risk-averse behaviour and suspicion of technology.

"Africa Now's Promotion of Rural Technology (PORT) project promotes better purchasing decisions by entrepreneurs through increasing product-knowledge and product-availability of income-generating and/or resource-saving technologies in rural areas of western Kenya.

"In partnership with the Intermediate Technology Development Group now (Practical Action), this project increases the availability of appropriate technology in rural Kenya.

"Working with rural hardware stores, Africa Now established a system whereby hardware stores were provided with demonstration models of products ranging from farming equipment to battery chargers to solar panels to popcorn making machines. Farmers and rural businesses benefited from the service as they could make informed purchases, manufacturers benefited from increased interest in their products, and hardware stores benefited from a growth in trade."

There are projects being initiated and maintained in many parts of Africa, perhaps you can find a way to help this one.

Promotion of Rural Technology, Kenya


Friday, March 24, 2006

WHEREVER THE NEED : Efficiency Is Their Creed

Sometimes it becomes difficult to stay enthused about working on projects because of difficulties brought about by a lack of management skills of crucial members of a project team. And to be honest, I was starting to lose steam on one of my projects because I was unable to get a team member to understand how crucial it is for potential donors to see the transparency of any financial operations involved in a project.

But just when I was about to throw in the towel a new volunteer showed up to help with the project and my spirits did a 180 degrees turn around. This person brought to the project a very concise understanding of the nature of the problems to be addressed in accomplishing the goals of the project as well as a very efficient approach for doing this. Right away, he rolled up his sleeves and began to work on sorting out the mess that had been created by well meaning but less experienced volunteers.

I am not going to mention the project that was in difficulty, but I will say that the person who came to its rescue works with a very impressive organization called: WHEREVER THE NEED

Wherever the Need is a registered UK charity that offers a new look at giving and supporting. Their priority is to implement projects that directly benefit individuals over the long-term in the most efficient way possible.

Because of the efficient manner in which they go about their work, they enable sponsors of the charity to respond specifically to the needs of local people - rather than indirectly through Governmental or large Non-Governmental Organisations. This way a connection can be established (if desired) between the donor and the recipient.

The priority of implementing projects that directly benefit individuals over the long-term in the most efficient way possible is in their words 'direct action'.

For example, by focusing on a holistic approach in the use and provision of water Wherever The Need provides clean drinking water to human beings and where possible extends the supply to livestock, crops and trees. It says at its web site that: "In tandem with the provision of water is the building of houses and community centres in areas stricken by disaster. All projects are approached in the most environmentally sensitive manner possible to further the Trustee's aim to safeguard the planet."

Wherever The Need began in 1997 and became a registered charity the following year. They started out by delivering aid to Chernikov - 35 kilometers from Chernobyl, Ukraine. The initial project in 1997 to Chernikov, Ukraine was to deliver goods in order to alleviate the suffering of children affected by radiation derived illnesses.

The next year they started trips to the Balkans, and between 1998 and 2000 Wherever The Need visited Croatia, Serbia and Kosova on fourteen different occasions. And this does not include some other trips they flew as well. All of these trips took aid directly to refugees impacted by the Balkans wars. Wherever The Need also helped on projects in India and Chile during this time.

In 2000, not long after that they began delivering aid to the Balkans they turned our attention to Africa, which was stricken with the HIV/AIDS problem.

When Wherever The Need began working in Africa they put in place two major projects in Zambia. One was an irrigation project in the East of the country and the other a farm/school project in Lusaka. In addition to this they carried out several smaller projects in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Before long, Wherever The Need began to identify that the underlying problem facing many of the people they were helping was a shortage of clean water and toilet facilities. These inadequacies inevitably led to the onset of intestinal problems. They reassessed our objectives and decided to focus our energy on providing water for life and began to direct its projects on providing long-term water supplies, safe sanitation and irrigation systems over many parts of the world.

This program of bringing water to communities that need it evolved into implementing ways of using water to benefit the environment as a whole, "i.e. adopting a holistic approach whereby water can benefit people, livestock, crops and local habitat."

In parallel with their water projects, they are currently working in Sri Lanka - specifically within areas affected by the Boxing Day Tsunami. Wherever The Need's first fact-finding team went out there in early January of 2004 in order to identify and set in motion, long-term reconstruction projects, taking with them the funding for one thousand 'Back to School Packs'. These packs provided children with basic school equipment thus enabling them to return to their classrooms.

Wherever The Need has Projects in Gambia, India, Nepal, Nigeria, Romania, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda, UK, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Their water projects in Africa are in Gambia, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, and they are looking into whether to carry out a water project in South Africa. Also, they currently have a sanitation project in Zambia.

I have mentioned many times the importance of water to the development of water resources to the overall development of Africa, both in the rural and urban context. And so often it seems as if there is so much difficulty in organizing properly to address the problem. Well, Wherever The Need addresses the problem and addresses it well. I am not going to recite here how they do what they do so well, but I strongly encourage you to visit their web site and take a look at an organization that has rolled up its sleeves and is addressing the problem with Efficiency as their Creed.

Wherever The Need

Thursday, March 23, 2006

COMPUTERS FOR SCHOOLS KENYA : A Proud List Of Achievements

Computers for Schools Kenya is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of e-competent young Kenyans through the provision of computers and auxiliary services to public secondary schools and related learning institutions and community access centres.

CFSK is a registered non-profit organization in Kenya and became so in October of 2002. It began it's operations in January a few months later.

The idea for this organization was borrowed from a similar organization called Computers For Schools Canada.

The members of the Board of Directors of the organization are drawn from a cross section of community and business leaders from major Kenyan Institutions in both the Public and Private sectors.

The staff management team of the organization manages its operations along with a group Local and International volunteers. The offices main Refurbishment and Technical Support Centre are maintained at the Starehe Boys' Centre in Nairobi which generously hosts the activity. In addition to its work at the Starehe Boys' Centre, CFSK runs training facilities at the:
Kenya Science Teachers College
Kenya Technical Training College
Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology
Ogada Secondary School and
Kenya Methodist University.

The inspiration behind founding CFSK was the existence of challenges existing the ICT world in Kenya. They included:

- High cost of ICT equipment that was beyond the financial resources of public schools and community access centers
- Inappropriate curricula: expensive foreign syllabi, over-ambitious and often outdated local curricula
- Inadequate technical expertise for installation and maintenance of ICT infrastructure
- Inadequate capacity in schools for application of ICT to teaching & learning and educational administration
- Lack of policies, statutory provisions and regulatory framework and standards
- Ever-widening digital divide and diminishing national competitiveness

CFSK trains Teachers, Trainers and even Principals during school holidays and between the months between April and August. In addition to Basic literacy, CSFK teaches Hardware, Networking, Front page, linux, Introduction to Computers & Operating systems, & Word-Processing, Spreadsheets & Presentation and Databases & Internet. And all of this is for the purposes of Capacity Building in Kenya.

The Core Technical Department Sections provide

Maintenance & Support
Internet Connectivity
Internal Network
Recycling and Waste Management
Special Experimental Projects
Thin Client Project

Sourcing for quality PCs, Deployment of those PCs and their Maintenance along with Curriculum & Resource Materials Development are also important goals of the organizaiton.

Additionally, Core Activities of CFSK include:

Capacity Building in schools through
Evaluation and Certification
Internet Connectivity/Access
Management of eWaste

CFSK has numerous Sponsors and Partners. Amongst them are:

Government of Kenya Departments and Agencies
Nation Media Group
Canadian Crossroads International
Canadian High Commission
Computers for Schools Canada
Connectivity Africa
Countryside Suppliers
Microsoft East Africa
United States Peace Corps
Ibero (Kenya) Limited
International Development Research Centre (IDRC)Canada
Digital Links International (UK)
Computer Aid International (UK)
Barclays Bank
Access Kenya
Kenya Airways

There are many, many other sponsors and Partners, but I cannot make this list too long here. So, I will direct you to their web site.

Among its many achievements, Computers for Schools Kenya deployed the first lot of 200 computers in 10 pilot schools and has since then (to name a few achievements)it has:

Establishment of a successful organizational model

Sourcing and refurbishment of over 5268 computers

Deployment of computers to over 208 institutions

Support and bi-annual Maintenance of deployed PCs

Training of 1,203 IT Teachers, Principals, BOG/PTA members and Educational administrators

There is a lot more that can be written about CFSK, but at this point, I am going to direct you to their web site and hope you pay them a visit.

Computers for Schools Kenya

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

THE SANKOFA FOUNDATION Making A Difference For Ghana

Before I say anything about The Sankofa Foundation I must apologize for my poor skills in the Dutch language. That part of The Sankofa Foundation's web site that contained the basic information about the organization is in Dutch and I had to do my best to try to translate it to English. That being said - Here Goes!

The Sankofa Foundation originated from the efforts of the Akwaaba Party in The Hague, Netherlands. The works of the party arose from the interest in furthering information about Ghanaian culture to the people in The Hague. In order to achieve its goals, those concerned got in touch with an individual in the Department of Culture of the municipality of The Hague. And from the discussions that ensued, the activities of The Sankofa Foundation was begun and the organization was formalized.

The governing body of the organization is the Board of the Foundation and is comprised of people from several cultural backgrounds. They are from Ghana, Surinam and the Netherlands. In addition the Foundation has a body of individuals in Ghana itself with expertise in the areas of culture and education.

As many people know, the name Sankofa is of the Akan language and refers to the mythical bird that symbolizes the Ghanaian philosophy that one must return to the past while in the present in order to be able understand who we are and from where we come. It is for this reason that the Sankofa looks both forward and backward simultaneously. And so by looking backward, it is able to move forward.

The Sankofa Foundation has been involved in many projects including:

Organizing the Kunstexpositie
Establishing the Telecenter in Ghana
Extension computer project in Ghana
Enabling Conciliation media from Ghana to the Netherlands
Helping to provide for the exchange of information
Fund Raising and
The Production of a documentary concerning the role of the church within the Ghanaian community

But mainily I would like to write about The Sankofa Foundation's ITC Project in Ghana.

The primary objective of the ITC project is to contribute to the reduction of the existing gap in the ICT area that exists between Ghana and the rest of the world. It is also the intention of the Foundation to stimulate existing initiatives making the ICT-facilities accessible and affordable for everyone.

By carrying out this project Sankofa creates a greater awareness and understanding in the schools and local communities. The Sankofa ICT Project is partly supported by a Dutch organization: Rodor Groep. Throughout the implementation of different pilot efforts "impact" is considered in terms of Opportunity, Empowerment And Security. Currently the project focuses on the use and impact of ICTs by slum children in Tema, Ghana.

More specifically the issue is addressed of: how do the computer skills of these children contribute to their future opportunities, security and empowerment. For this pilot project Star Basic JSS was selected as this school already provides computer classes to their students starting the age of 10 (6th grade) and also includes computer training in their vocational programme.

The "Sankofa for Star Basic School ICT project" is a computer laboratory that is housed in building of 5 x 20 meters air-conditioned room. So far the laboratory has 15 computers and a printer. This laboratory has been setup in a deprived school that had no computer facility, but has been connected to the national electricity network through the effort of the school authority. The school also had access to telephone facility quiet recently.

The laboratory was setup in 2000 but was unable to operate because the school could not afford to purchase computers themselves. The building for the laboratory was put up by the community, and supported by the school's Parent Teachers Association. This is the community's expression of their willingness to embrace ICT lessons and skills to schools.

Community 5 is a deprived community in Tema. Most students in the school, as in most schools in Ghana, are marginalized when it comes to access to information and communication technologies. Most of these schools are making efforts to set up computer laboratories, but due to the lack of availability of support from the Government in that area the projects often do not materialize.

Star Basic School began operations as a public school for slum children in 1968 with only 10 students and 2 teachers. It currently hosts 945 students, 480 boys and 465 girls. The principal, Mrs Bridget Tsigbey, has stated that her school targets children from families that earn less than 200,000 cedis (about 35 USD) a month. For a relatively small amount of money Star Basic School offers them an alternative to private schools that are often too expensive and government schools that are can possibly be of low quality. Star Basic School offers education from Kindergarten to Junior Secondary grade.

The main reason the Star Basic School has computer training in its curriculum is because these skills are among the basic skills that children need these days

Sankofa Foundation does not believe that computers can solve all the problems of the slum children, but they can be useful instruments to increase their ability to be in demand in the workplace. This brings about confidence building for the children that happens when they learn skills such as mastering the Internet. Additionally, computer skills enable the children to better face the challenges of present day society. These goals comport with those of The Sankofa Foundation: to build skills, confidence, and attitude.

At the Star Basic Schools computer lessons are a compulsory part of the curriculum from class 4 till JSS 3 (ages 10-16). Other schools start from the class 1, but Star Basic School needs more computers and teachers in order to be able to provide for this greater range of students. Currently, there is 1 computer lesson each week for each class and the first years are mainly dedicated to computer orientation. Later, lessons start with the children learning how to use DOS and Windows operating systems, MS Office (Word and Excel). Students would be browsing the Internet and using e-mail (Yahoo and hotmail) when the laboratory is connected to the Internet. The children also have access to classnet, an intranet for Basic Schools where they can ask and respond each other's questions.

Because of the strong ICT sector presence in Ghana, the Star Basic School students have high expectations from their computer classes and are very willing to learn these skills. The results of the computer lessons are: empowerment and confidence building, which are not always easy to quantify. But the access to the Internet alone and contact with students all over the world will bring about changes in the lives of the children.

There is much more to learn about The Sankofa Foundation and the Sankofa ITC Project, Ghana. Information on the Project can be found at this link. And the Hompage for The Sankofa Foundation (in Dutch) can be found at this link.

I strongly recommend that you give it a look.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

TO BE WORLDWIDE: Interesting And Impressive

One of the most difficult areas of development to address, while at the same time being one of the most important is the creation of educational facilities that can sustain themselves. And this is just what To Be Worldwide does.

To Be Worldwide is an organization that develops libraries and activity centers and other educational facilities that are sustainable and complementary to existing school systems in developing countries. And their projects enable children to learn by using their theoretical knowledge in a practical and creative environment while at the same time having their skills stimulated in ways that are not typically done within the regular school system. This allows the students a chance to be more valuable in the labor market. In this way, To Be Worldwide believes that they contribute to the improvement of the existing educational systems as a whole.

To Be Worldwide is able to operate as a non-profit organization because it is a member of the American Fund for Charities, a 501(c)(3) Tax-exempt organization. Also, it participates with 'Online Doneren' in order to be eligible to receive tax-exempt donations from online donors.

To Be Worldwide believes that: "Direct investment in education is a proven method in advancing the socio-economic development of nations and communities alike." Stating that "It is all about developing Human Capital;" the organization goes on to say that: "Unfortunately, most of the developing countries lack the necessary institutional capacity to ensure quality and relevance of education." A fact recognized by many of the governments of these developing countries. And many of these nations have sought to make improving the quality of their education part of their whole strategy to reduce poverty.

To Be Worldwide is a Dutch non-profit/non-government organization founded by Nellie Kirschner. The organization currently operates in Ghana as an initial focus area for their activities. The mission of this project is to develop sustainable educational facilities that are complementary to the existing Ghanaian primary school system. Therefore, the facilities are designed to stimulate skills such as creativity, inventiveness and flexibility. All of these are skills that are not initially address by the regular curriculum of the primary school system. To Be Worldwide feels that the development of these skills will eventually provide better chances for the children involved both in life and in the labor market in the future.

The hope is that eventually their vision will contribute to the overall Poverty Reduction Strategy of the Ghanaian Government. Their vision specifically states that in order to develop a healthier, better educated and more productive population it is necessary to: Increase investments in Human Resources, through improving the quality and access to education, health services, nutrition, water and sanitation.

The target group of To Be Worldwide are primarily: children, and these children receive the benefits of the program free of charge /within school hours. Secondly, the organization wants its project to benefit anyone who wants to learn and provides to these people its benefits at a reasonable fee, after school hours.

The learning materials provided are: books and learning modules - which incorporate Ghanaian as well as (African)-American and European examples. Where necessary these materials are supported by audio visual aids and computers.

Within each appointed pilot school the course time is one hour per class per week and the activities include a focus on reading and writing skills and general knowledge. A special focus is placed upon personal development, creativity, inventiveness and flexibility.

Extra attention is also given to developing computer skills for children from10 to12 years of age. These computer skills includes developing basic, technical skills, working with software and working with the Internet.

Additionally, the centers are designed for multi functional purposes and each is used for other activities, such as Aids prevention, health and nutritional projects, as required by the specific community that it serves.

The activites of the project are initiated, coordinated, implemented and evaluated by the project coordinator. The project coordinator is assisted by teachers of the related pilot school, as well as by social workers and volunteers.

Whether the project meets its objective is evaluated by reviewing student work - such as book reports and other tasks and using questionnaires and tests every six months. Incentives such as educational material, stationary, school uniforms et cetera will be offered in order to motivate the students' performance.

It is clear that this project of To Be Worldwide has the respect of the international community because it has received funding from: European Community, Unicef, other 'grant programmes' as well as from private sources. The Ghanaian Ministry of Education will ultimately finance the pilot and the other centers to be developed after the current project is operational. The organization also is a parther of Computers For Development . To Be Worldwide is still pro-actively looking for new sponsors, however, and you can find out how you can help by going to their web site.

You can also find out more information about its Pilot Project by going to To Be Worldwide's web site. The project is the Educational Resource Centre located in Takoradi, Western Region, Ghana.

The pilot project has four Phases which include:

Library (Phase 1)

Related activities (Phase 2)

Computer training (Phase 3)

Other activities (Phase 4)

I could tell you about each of the phases here, but then you would have less reason to go to To Be Worldwide's web site. The pilot program of To Be Worldwide is as interesting as it is impressive, and I strongly urge you to go and take a look at To Be Worldwide .

Monday, March 20, 2006

COMPUTERS FOR DEVELOPMENT: An Impressive Organization

On its web site Computers For Development states that it is "a Dutch based foundation aimed at promoting the use of refurbished computers and other hardware for sustainable development through the use of ICT in education."

Computers For Development is reaching its aims by reusing PC's and other computer hardware (monitors, laptops, printers, modems, etc) that are provided by their donors. They collect the computers, clean the hard disks using certified software and they test the hardware, and configure it according to the requirements of the end-users in the countries where we operate.

The computers are then shipped to their destination country / region by ship or air freight, and then distributed. The organization ascertains that the computers are delivered to the correct location, where they are installed, and incorporated in a support and maintenance program to ensure their practical usage and sustainability.

Before the computers are delivered to the schools or other recipient organizations, a needs assessment check is done. This assessment can be accomplished in pat because the application organization fills out a request form that includes an assessment of the security situation on site.

The main objectives of Computers For Development are: to share the technology of rich western countries with people in the least developed countries. And also to foster development through ICT, and create networks that help people help themselves. The specifics of accomplishing these goals by:

Making hardware available

Providing IT training for both students and teachers

Sharing IT knowledge and skills

Building communities and networks of people for learning and development

Maintenance and sustainability of the implemented solutions

As reported on their web site, Computers For Development has partnered with the following IT partners for the projects listed below:

Computers for Schools Kenya
During the past few years, Computers for Schools Kenya has supplied and installed over 1000 PC's at 50 Secondary Schools in Kenya. Another 150 Secondary Schools have also applied to participate. CFSK not only provides the installation of PC's, but also hardware and software maintenance, and provides IT related teaching programs to schools. CFSK is currently working together with the Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on an ICT policy within education. CFSK is also starting up initiatives for schools in a number of other African countries, e.g. Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania
The project is part of ELCT Managed Health Care and Mission for Essential Medical Supplies. The project is aimed at improving the utilization of information in hospitals in Tanzania.

To Be Worldwide
Stichting To Be Worldwide is an organization that develops sustainable educational facilities, such as libraries and activity centers, complementary to existing school systems in developing countries. More

Sankofa ICT Project's main objective is to contribute to the reduction of the existing gap in the area of ICT in Ghana with the rest of the world. "It is also our intention to stimulate existing initiatives making the ICT-facilities accessible and affordable for everyone. By doing this we create the awareness and understanding in the schools and local communities" Sankofa quotes.

Medical Missions-Pacific Rim Group of Lions International
This organization supplies hearing aids to profoundly deaf children, most enrolled in sign language schools, throughout the Philippines. Thanks to these aids, the children are able to follow education in special schools. To help prepare children for an independent life, ICT education in schools is one of the attention points.

A more complete list of their partners and links to their web sites can be found at the following web page:
Partners of Computers For Development

Computers for Schools Kenya

Cordaid (Memisa - Mensen in Nood - Vastenaktie)

Computers for Schools / Ordinateurs pour les écoles Canada

International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications

To Be Worldwide


Wilde Ganzen

ELCT (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania)

Soroptimist International

Groepering Computeronderwijs Kameroen


Equal Opportunities for All Foundation (EOAF)

Auberge de Kieviet

Floris de Langen, Logicrafts


Computer Migrations Europe

Lions Club Voorburg Prinses Marianne


Wings of Support

In addition to their partners, Computers For Development has an impressive list of donors. Links to these donors can be found at:
Computers For Development Donors

Stage Holding - The International Entertainment Group
Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, Leidschendam
Kender Thijssen, Veenendaal
LeaseTrading, Heemstede
Telindus, Belgium
Teekens Karstens Advocaten en Notarissen, Leiden
Sawadee Reizen, Amsterdam
Dopharma, Raamsdonkveer
Van den Boogaart Personeelszaken, Gouda
Samenwerkingsschool Balans, The Hague
YPC, Wassenaar
Samsung Electronics Europe Logistics, Delft
Sturkenboom Partners, De Bilt
Autobedrijf Roothans, Leende
Johnson Polymer, Nijehaske
Celerant Consulting, Amsterdam
Voerman International, The Hague
wonenCentraal, Alphen aan den Rijn
Bon Chassé, Tiel
Autobedrijf Maasland, Voorburg
Sjöcrona o Van Stigt Advocates, The Hague
3i Europe plc Benelux, Amsterdam
Save the Children Nederland, The Hague
CIP (Computer Information Products), Bleiswijk
InformStrategy, Amersfoort
Copharm-Maquet, Baambrugge
ATP, Schiphol-Rijk
Mercy Ships, Rotterdam
Monitor Group, Amsterdam
Cerebraal - Activiteitencentrum Sparring, Den Haag
Bosch Nederland
Research voor Beleid, Leiden
Van Lansberge Public Affairs, Den Haag
Financial Future Planners, Wassenaar
Inter-Ring, Venlo
Witlox Advies, Rosmalen
Bentley Systems, Hoofddorp
AllSolutions, Woerden
Hudson, Amsterdam
SThree, Amsterdam/Brussel
Fasting & Co, Den Haag
Scope CRM Software, Amsterdam
Van Dusseldorp, Amsterdam

Whether you are considering donating computers, looking for someone to donate computers to your organization, or just want to see how a computer donor organization is structured, the web site for Computers For Development is worth the time to visit for a look at an impressive Organization.

Computers For Development