Providing Lesotho's Children with Keys to the World

This is the story of our efforts to end the vicious cycle of poverty, disease, inadequate education, and early death
in a remote rural community in Lesotho, Africa, by providing quality education and life skills
to the young children there. Join us on our journey ...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Volunteer to Join Our Team - Fortunate Gunzo

Fortune Gunzo contacted me, referred by the OLPC-ZA list serve message I sent out asking for help.  After several emails of introduction, I received the following:

Hi Janissa and Thanks,

I am not particularly sure of what I could help you with, I am based in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, so something I can do online would be great. I do not mind travelling, if I know about the trips in advance. However, financial resources could be a limiting factor as I am student. Like I said in the previous email, I am a PhD candidate (this is my first year) working in the Education field as my chosen area of development (my interest being in the area of ICT4D). I have a Social Sciences background. I majored in Communication, Sociology and Industrial Psychology in my first degree, moved to ICT in my Honours degree and then ICT education for my Master.

I have some work experience in events management, research and report writing. I have been tutoring since undergrad, in various courses but have been teaching computer literacy for the third year running since coming to Rhodes University. I have worked on small projects in various capacities, including data capturing, conducting literature reviews, data collection etc.

I love working with people and adore children. I currently babysit a lot! and volunteer with projects in Grahamstown that work with school children, one (Galela Amanzi) fundraises for water tanks to provide clean water to marginalised members of the community, the water tanks target schools, pre-schools and community centres. Another project (Imbumba) connects high schools children with NGOs in Grahamstown, for volunteer, internship and training opportunities. Through community engagement programs that I am involved in (in my department), I facilitate, tutor and teach computer literacy mostly to teachers and learners. Last year, I was involved in HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns at several schools using computers (this was related to my Masters research).

I am 30, Zimbabwean and single (no children), I do not speak SeSotho but do speak isiXhosa which is the main language of the Eastern Cape. I have been in the Eastern Cape for 6 years I have made friends with locals which have made it even easier to learn the language.

I am able to manage my time very well, and I am an organised person.

Please feel free to ask me anything else you might want to know that will help you decide how I can be of help.


I wrote back to Fortunate with several suggestions of task she could take on for the project:

From what you've told me, maybe you could help us coordinate with other groups in South Africa that we will be working with. I'd like to arrange a site visit for our teachers from Ketane to the Kliptown Youth Project's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program. I recently emailed KYP, but I haven't heard back from them. Would you be willing to make contact with Thulani Madondo at KYP to find out if and how we could set up a visit and some training andfind out how much it would cost? If it's within our budget, then would you be interested in coordinating schedules with the teachers in Ketane and making the travel arrangements?

There are other tasks similar to this that I could use help with, too. One involves working with to get digital and print educational materials. Another involves coordinating with computer, internet, and solar power technicians to get the network and power infrastructure set up in Ketane.

We are interested in designing materials and exercises specifically for the OLPC XO laptops that fit into the Lesotho primary school curriculum. I know you found me through the OLPC-ZA email list. Do you own an OLPC XO laptop? If you do, would you be interested in working with the Ketane teachers to develop educational materials for the XO? If you don't have one, but are interested in this, I might be able to send you one once we have established a good working relationship.

Let me know if any of those sound appealing to you, and I'll sent you more details. We would pay you for the long distance phone calls and other communication expenses.

Unfortunately, we don't have the money to pay you for travel expenses. But as our organization grows, hopefully we'll be able to pay to get you to Ketane in future years ...

... One other thing you might be interested in helping with - We are looking for HIV/AIDS materials specifically for young children ages 6-12, preferably in Sesotho. We can also use materials in English for the 10-12 year-olds. Both digital and print would work if we can digitize the print material. We'd like to get these put on the laptops and/or the school network server.

We'll see what comes of this.  I confess, I would love to have someone in South Africa willing to help with tasks like these.  If it works out, Fortunate could be a godsend.

- Janissa