After years in the planning, ITEC and OASIS sent a team of volunteers to finish and open the brand new IT classroom in OASIS in Uganda, connecting the remote village of Musoto to the internet for the first time…
Lake Victoria stretched out under the plane as the ITEC team landed at Entebbe airport. Nick, Shaun, Jay, Kieran and Tony were excited to embark on the next stage of their journey -- a seven hour car ride to Mbale. Unfortunately, they arrived at the very start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference so security was intense. After queueing and queueing again, they finally met Alvin and Wycliffe, the driver, 3 hours later than intended.
The journey was hectic as cars, trucks and scooters travelled without much fear and sneaked through gaps many people would say there weren’t any. Soon, the team had arrived at Mbale, tired but enthusiastic for the upcoming project.
The following days were busy and challenging. The team reveals their biggest highlights from visiting OASIS in Uganda.
William Edibu is ITEC’s newest hire and will be working hard over the next few years maintaining the computers and network at OASIS in Uganda. This was his first time meeting members of the ITEC family, and the team was enthusiastic to learn more about his experience and expertise.
It quickly became clear he is perfect for the job as he has a wealth of IT knowledge, passion for technology and works hard.
“William is perfect in every way,” said Nick Orme, CEO at ITEC. “Knowing the IT suite is in safe hands and that he will be an inspirational teacher to others is a massive bonus.”
Working with the Local Community
From the moment the team arrived at the school, they saw the challenges. From the heat and cockroaches to a dodgy internet connection, the team realised they would only be able to complete the job with the help of the community.
When the projector screen was too big to fit in the container and a server room needed to be built next door, the local community rescued the operation and got the team over the finish line. Under the team’s guidance, the community crimped cables, installed the computers and ran a connection between the shipping container and the server room. A local craftsman later turned up and sawed the projector screen to size. He even stayed to help the team fit the screen!
“Once we got all the computers set up it was time to do the cabling,” said Shaun Cole, Senior Stores Assistant at ITEC. “I had made a friend named Brian who helped me unpack the computers and crimped cables with me.
“A lot of the kids were peeping through the windows and looked interested in what was going on so I started to welcome them inside to help me with the wiring. They were better at it than me.”
Meeting the Dignitaries
With the Monday deadline rapidly approaching, the panic was heightened when Alvin, Country Director for OASIS in Uganda revealed local dignitaries would be turning up to watch the grand opening.
This made the team nervous as the computers -- now plugged in and working -- were having software issues. These are usual and inevitable snags, but they did cause the team to worry. But, a local electrician soon arrived to upgrade the power and the team sourced a new router from Mbale.
By meeting the community leaders, parents, teachers and of course, the children, Uganda’s stark history was forced into the light, and made the team reflect on how something many people in the UK take for granted -- an internet connection -- would now be a true resource for the whole community. Multiple local schools will be able to use the IT classroom and over the next five years, thousands of people could be using the facilities.
“It was a very emotional week for me,” said Tony Davey, Southern IT Service Desk Manager. “I consider myself to be a very tough person, but this trip has changed me completely and I have formed life long relationships which I never thought would happen!
“For me the defining moment was when I was carrying the caretaker Dave’s little two-year-old boy. Dave thanked me and said his son has a future now.
“To see the smiles on the staff and children made it worthwhile and has changed my focus on life.”
Handing Out the Lanterns
As part of the fundraising efforts for this trip, ITEC staff rallied together for the Light Up Uganda campaign to supply Musoto with a clean light source. Only a third of the school’s pupils have access to electricity and many of the others have to do their homework next to toxic kerosene lamps.
The sheer delight as they opened their lanterns and learned how to use them was overwhelming. When the team finally packed up on Monday night and headed off back through Musoto we saw one of the kids sat on his porch demonstrating the lantern to his dad who was beaming at him and calling other people over to look at it.
There were tears.
If you would like to donate to the Light Up Uganda Campaign, please click here. And, to keep up with the news in Uganda, follow ITEC’s LinkedIn and Twitter feeds…