A Community Pulling Together

John Dada gave the UK team a huge boost at the latest online meeting with our Nigerian counterparts when he spoke of the generosity being displayed by local Zenith bank workers.

Fantsuam Foundation
banks with Zenith and John had earlier been asked to speak to their staff about the enterprising and vital work undertaken by our sister organisation.

News update from the Wednesday Meeting

This week's online UK-Nigeria meeting include the welcome news from John that Fantsuam Foundation (FF) has been nominated by the World Bank, through USAID, to be a food distribution centre for supplementary nutrion for children under age of 10 in Kafanchan. John went on to explain that FF will be distributing the food to other NGOs to send to their communities.

Solar training in India - could we connect?

Hi Vijay

Thanks for the telling me about three women from Africa getting trained in making and installing solar lamps at a training course at the Barefoot College in Rajasthan  I am trying to think what you already know about dadamac's current interests in solar power. I'll just mention a few things in case we have not discussed them before.

Learning About Solar Power at India's Barefoot College

Hi Pam, I decided to put up this post since there is an Africa angle to it.

The much-acclaimed Barefoot College in Rajasthan (North India)has been empowering rural men and women by teaching them skills that help them get a livelihood. 

This news link was interesting since it talks about three women from Africa getting trained in making and installing solar lamps.

The news items says: "The three, who have been here for two months, will train another 16 weeks, learning about charge controllers, inverters, core-winding, deciphering of printed circuit boards, testing, wiring, installation, and repair and maintenance of solar panels. After six months of hands-on training, they will return home to install solar units in their villages, dispelling the darkness forever."

The Barefoot College began in 1972 with the belief that “solutions to rural problems lie within the community”. The college, which has bagged many international awards for its innovative approach to empowering poor and rural women, encourages practical knowledge and skills rather than paper qualifications.

It would be good if to find out if Barefoot College would like to invite a few women from FF for training in solar engineering.


Support for the visually impaired in rural Nigeria

Here is some additional information about Fantsuam Academy and its initiative to use JAWS for the blind and visually impaired in its community.(As promised in my previous blog)
This email update was sent to Dadamac UK from Cicely, a VSO at Fantsuam Foundation (FF), and has been edited to remove names. For photos click here.

"Our JAWS experts, are safely back in Jos. I have thanked them for the time they have given introducing  Fantsuam and its instructors to JAWS as part of the programme to make Fantsuam Academy courses available to the sight-impaired with suport from VSO and ANWAB/Freedom Scientific ( developers of JAWS.)

Report of the visit

Seven Fantsuam Foundation Academy instructors and two blind members of the community attended a JAWS introductory session over two days, held in the Community Community Centre (CCC) on 6 and 7 April.

The sessions were led by two sight impaired students currently studying Special Education at the University of Jos.  One of the students had taught himself JAWS after becoming blind at the age of 17 and has written a 60 hour JAWS curriculum including student books and teachers' guide. The other has been partially sighted since birth.

As well as demonstrating JAWS, FF instructors were encouraged to 'practice' teaching with the two blind members of the community, both of whom are familiar with typewriters but have not used computers before.

At the forefront of Education for Children and the Visually Impaired

This week's UK-Nigeria meeting on Wednesday proved so informative that I have had to briefly summarise the topics that were covered with the intention of writing additional blogs giving more detail.

The Nigerian team was reduced in numbers as two exciting developments were underway.

Firstly, there was the anticipated arrival of Reuben Buhari, a journalist with This Day newspaper. Reuben plans to do an update about the work of Fantsuam Foundation (FF) , in particular looking at the overall impact of FF on its host communities.

Secondly, there some of the Nigerian team were involved in a JAWS training session for the Academy instructors to show how to make computers accessible to the blind. This is a fantastic initiative which will make the Fantsuam Academy courses accessible to the sight-impaired with support from VSO and ANWAB/Freedom Scientific (developers of JAWS). I understand from Wikipaedia that JAWS (an acronym for Job Access With Speech) is " a screen reader, a software program for visually impaired users, produced by the Blind and Low Vision Group at Freedom Scientific. Its purpose is to make personal computers using Microsoft Windows accessible to blind and visually impaired users".

Chollom informed us that they had just downloaded the JAWS software which will be installed on the newly arrived Inveneo computers.
John summed up the JAWS initiative perfectly when he told us: "that is a project that enables FF to address one its mission of reaching the un-served population of people with disabilities"

Feelings about faceboook and twitter

Hi Vijay

I was interested to read your impressions of social media - and glad you enjoyed the twitter session. (All the teaching tips are in the Second Thursday twitter session achive. ) It was the first time we have tried anything quite like that - just a handful of us agreeing to meet onine to learn about something as specific as twitter (Second Thursday twitter session invitation).

Do you still like Facebook?

I joined Facebook because Chris Macrae often sent me information that I wanted to read - but increasingly he sent it through Facebook. For a while I just ignored information sent that way, but in the end I joined. Then I looked at Chris' list of friends - and was intersted to find people I knew.. so I looked at their friends and so on. But I never became an enthusiast. When I do go there it just seems too full of stuff that I really don't have time to plough through.

Learning Twitter Lessons in a Chat Room

Hi Pam, I don't hate technology, but I also don't have a craving fascination for it.

Social media, of course, is a different arena. I love the idea of connecting to people and exhanging ideas and thoughts--and as you would say, rubbing minds with those who would like to share their wisdom with me on a range of topics of interest to me.

But here too, I am not a person who plunges headlong into anything new unless I am truly convinced that I need it for 'building bridges' with the community around the world. I take my time to explore, play and understand the technology and its bigger impact.

Facebook (FB) was the platform that I began to use since last year. I liked the idea of being able to instantly share interesting stories, thoughts, links, audios and videos to friends and acquaintances. Of course, I kept believing that the catch here was that my friends had to be online to be able to read the stuff that I had put up. To my pleasant surprise, I found out that many of them had mobile internet connectivity which allowed them instant access and reaction time to the latest posts on FB.

ZittNet – Fantsuam Foundation's Community Wireless Network

The success of Zittnet, at our sister organisation Fantsuam Foundation, is a major reason that we are able to connect the UK with rural Nigeria so brilliantly at our weekly online meetings.

To really get a better picture of Zittnet I urge you to look at this excellent article written by Louise Berthilson in 2007. The information is current, although there have been further lightning strikes. This has resulted in a larger mast. I will also ask Bala, the manager of Zittnet and his team, to comment about any other changes that may have occured.


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