And they’re off! This afternoon at 2pm, the ITEC team departed from the Bristol HQ office, in glorious British sunshine, dressed in their matching mission tshirts, bound for Heathrow Airport. Two flights and a long bus ride lies between them and the remote town of Mbale in Eastern Uganda where a week of thunderstorms, a hopeful community and a yet-to-be-assembled IT classroom awaits them.
The ITEC team heading out to Mbale today marks an important day as the entire Oasis Uganda IT Classroom project comes to fruition. Four long years of planning, negotiating, and fundraising have finally led to a six-man team heading to Mbale to set up an IT classroom to serve the Oasis Musoto School and wider Mbale community.
Mbale is a city at the foot of the Wanale ridge of Mt. Elgon. Like many urban areas, Mbale town is experiencing problems such as rapid population growth, unemployment and lack of urban services.
Children and adults in Mbale are very likely to have never seen a computer before, let alone have access to the internet. Shaun, Nick, Kieran, Jay, Tony and Jim are all thrilled to represent ITEC by traveling to Mbale to kit out and set up the new IT classroom.
There is a great feeling of excitement with some nervous anticipation with the team. Excitement about helping transform the lives of the Mbale community through technology is mixed with trepidation about the massive job ahead over the next few days.
Kieran Richards, said, “I am most nervous that we’ll forget something simple but vital. Like a screwdriver or a cable! That could really slow us down.” while Tony Davey said, “I’ve had a few late nights preparing for the trip but it still hasn’t really sunk in it’s happening. I need to overcome my fear of flying first!”
Last minute nerves are nowhere near enough to dampen the spirit of the team as they head out to really make a difference to the local community. Kieran said, “I’m hoping to see the good in what technology can do to inspire and accelerate learning for the kids in Mbale. We as a society in the UK are lucky enough to experience technology on such a scale that it’s the “norm”. Technology should be accessible for everybody, regardless of where you were born. Technology connects and brings us together; I cannot wait to see the foundations of this in front of my eyes in Mbale. Excited is an understatement.”
Shaun Cole said, “I’m most excited about meeting the people of Mbale and seeing how technology can help the children there. I’m hoping to learn a lot by experiencing this brand new culture, and hopefully bring some new found appreciation home with me.”
It is a proud moment for ITEC CEO, Nick Orme, as he leads the team on their trip. He said, “More than anything, I am just feeling very proud of the work ITEC has done to get to this point. It has been a massive team effort over the last two years with technical design, logistics, planning, project management, marketing – and most of all the fundraising efforts of our staff. All that is best about ITEC is demonstrated in this project.
I personally can’t wait to get a sense of the difference access to technology can make in enhancing learning and inspiring kids to dream bigger. We all take technology for granted in the UK. It is often difficult to remember what life was like without mobile phones, internet, TV on demand. None of us had a “big bang” moment when one day we didn’t have technology and the next day we did – technology just crept up on us all and slowly embedded itself in our lives. It will be thrilling to witness that “big bang” moment for the kids in the school.”
We will be following the team throughout the trip, keeping you up to date on the action in Mbale and capturing the reactions of the children and community there. Stay tuned to the ITEC blog to keep up with the progress.