Les Enfants de Dieu (EDD) is a Kigali based school and home for one hundred former street boys. These boys are caught in the gap between Rwanda’s past and the future as the country shifts from an agrarian economy to becoming an East African IT hub. To include these children in the country’s future, we at EDD want to launch our own computer literacy program. We will use a Rising Voices Microgrant to buy seven Google Chromebooks and a year of internet access. Led by our dedicated staff of teachers, social workers and volunteers, the project’s goal is to teach the boys the basics of IT.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
Children in Rwanda come to live on the street from a variety of backgrounds. Some are orphans, some are runaways from abusive family situations, and some are pushed to begging by impoverished or negligent parents. Street children are difficult to access for research and their voices go unheard in national policy discussions. In Rwanda, computers are still a luxury. One EDD graduate has likened his understanding of computers to that of a mouse with a coin. During EDD’s 2014 strategy meeting, the boys’ elected ministers identified computer education as a top fundraising priority. They believe computer literacy will increase their future job prospects and their ability to share current projects in dance, music and visual art with EDD’s network of friends and supporters.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
An American teaching volunteer named Samuel Jackson is helping to write and design this grant proposal. Samuel maintains a travel blog about life in Rwanda (theriftvalley.wordpress.com) and will be assisting our children to produce blog posts. Samuel’s father is a professional education technology integrationist with over twenty years experience designing computer curriculum. He is helping us choose educational software and implement our curriculum.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
Internet access will allow the boys to manage EDD’s online profile, update our social media, and reach out to crowd-source funds for needs they identify. Computers will also allow EDD to teach the boys to self-advocate and raise awareness about issues facing Rwandan street children. Using our new computers, boys at the school will create and maintain a bimonthly newsletter featuring writings, art, and photos. The newsletter will be a forum for children to tell stories about their former lives on the street and a way to stay in contact with boys who have graduated from the center. Every newsletter will feature a piece of writing from an EDD graduate who has been reintegrated into Rwandan society. This will also allow us to publically stay in contact with rehabilitated students to exchange.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established or plan to establish that will contribute to the success of the project.
EDD has a strong network of supporters from Rwanda and all over the world. Expanding our donor funds will be critical to continue to fund internet access for our new computers in the months and years after the computers first arrive.
EDD is host to long term visiting volunteers which will play an important role in teaching computer skills.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
Computer education will be a non optional part of EDD’s curriculum in the coming years. We already know that there is a huge demand at our center for computer education. Individual boys’ continued access to our computer facilities will be contingent on sustained participation in producing citizen media. EDD hosts a population of around one hundred children. Every year, 20-25% of the boys are reintegrated and new boys are recruited from the street. That means we can estimate that every five years one hundred new children street children will be trained in computer use and digital media production.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
We have chosen to use most of the Microgrant money to buy seven Google Chromebooks. This hardware is simple, durable, and resistant to computer viruses, easing implementation and reducing maintenance costs. Chromebooks will give us access to hundreds of free educational apps for alphabet learning, typing, English, math and science. We will build on these foundational programs with training in web publishing on Wordpress and social media management on Facebook. Helping us implement these programs, our consulting technology integrationist has over twenty years experience designing computer curriculum. With his help, we will train our teaching staff in computer education. We will also expand our volunteer base to include computer educators. Together, our team will transform their lives.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
Our facilities are currently very limited. We have an available classroom with electricity and desks and little else. The money provided by the grant will buy Samsung 11.7” wireless Chromebooks, one year of internet access, and a wireless 3g modem and router from the Rwandan telecommunication company, Airtel.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
The relationship is that Les Enfants de Dieu has been supporting street children for 12 years ago and still having a broader perspective for the children we serve directly and those who will likely benefit from our services indirectly in the future. What makes us the most appropriate organization to implement this project is due to our previous experience in serving these vulnerable children, the experience in working with national and international organizations that enhance trust towards our management system and the our efforts in thriving for the children's right. We work closely with the political entities of Rwanda to affect a social change and private sectors as well. This has boosted EDD's reliability and the most interesting is the role our children in the day to day management.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
Our two biggest challenges to the implementation of this project are maintenance and expansion. Maintenance issues will arise from the ordinary use of these computers by our boys. We plan to restrict computer access to boys in primary school grades 3-6. This will ensure that younger children newly come from the street are given time to learn responsibility and care before they are entrusted with delicate machines. We will also contract a part time technician to look after the maintenance of our computers. To be sure, the biggest challenge we face is expanding the scope of our program. While this microgrant will allow us to begin a seed computer program, we want to grow our facilities with more computers and hardware like headphones, scanners, and printers.This implies seeking more funds.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
Monitoring of our computer program will be conducted at four tiers. First, we will teach the children typing skills and record their progress on that software. Second, by soliciting the participation of EDD graduates in our online newsletter we will witness the boys” evolution and growth as they share diary entries and essays. Third, we will monitor the success of that blog by charting fluctuations in our readership through time. Finally we will evaluate our program by the number of fundraising projects that we can implement with the help of the boys at EDD. The first two metrics listed are the primary objective of our computer program. If we can demonstrate increasing computer literacy among our boys and create space for their self-expression through our newsletter.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
It will depend on the time by which we will receive funds; however, we aim to make a one year project. This implies from the time we will start using the computer lab to 12 months.
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
Router/Modem: Wuawei B681 3G Wireless Gateway $87.40
Internet: Airtel Monthly Data Bundle $ 26.67
X 12 months $ 320
Computers: Samsung 11.7” wireless chromebook $ 279
X 7 computers $ 1,953
Shipping: Customs fees for volunteer transportation $ 30
Maintenance $ 100
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
Rising Voices can help us with connecting EDD to other organizations which are sources of future funding. Help to increase the visibility of our organization through the social media of where you are and beyond to make people aware of us.
Les Enfants de Dieu