Ariel suggested I write a blog about the computer lessons I've started giving to the mama's of the Mama-Mtoto project, so I'll give you all a little update!
From the first moment Susy and I met the mama's and asked them if they had any suggestions for extra meetings we could have, or projects we could work on, they suggested computer lessons. We were immediatly enthusiastic, but couldn't find the time when Susy was still here, we were simply to busy with the Mama-Mtoto project and our BA thesis. So during Susy's last week I promised the mothers I would set up the computer lessons when I got back from Nairobi.
Setting up computer lessons wasn't without any bumps in the road; the projector I had ordered fell through in the hour before the lesson (the guy suddenly wanted to charge me 3000 KsH instead of 500 KsH we had agreed on!), leaving me with one netbook to teach 10-15 mothers Word and e-mail on. Moreover, the power supply had been especially shaky the past couple of days and I was hoping my netbook would make it through the whole lesson. And finally, how was I going to teach these mothers how to use a computer? Computers are definitely something I take for granted - growing up with a dad who works for IBM who let me use his laptop and PC's from a very young age - but most of these mothers had never used a computer before. I prepared a powerpoint presentation (when I still thought I had a projector at my disposal) and decided to go with the flow, and see how the mothers would interact with the computer as we went along.
We definitely had to start from square one: using a mouse was a huge struggle, but once the mothers got a bit more used to the mouse, we started using some basic Word features, such as changing font and font size, saving a document and underlining a sentence. Esther brought the netbook she had been given by Smallbean for the Citizen Archivist project, so we ended up splitting the group into two smaller groups, with 5 mamas sharing a netbook (and at the end of the meeting 6). We spent a great deal of the meeting just practicing, because, as I noticed early on, practice definitely makes perfect when it comes to computers, and the mamas were quick to catch on, eager to take notes, try new features and patiently waiting their turn to highlight a word and make it bold.
We immediately scheduled a second meeting, which was yesterday, and it was another great meeting, with a recap of the lessons learned last week Thursday and a bit of new information on how to print a document, how to align left/centre and right and how to change the font color. We did a short introduction on how to use the internet, which we will further expand on during the next meeting (next week Monday). I am super happy to tell you that Katy Kirby, who moved here last week with her husband Miles who works for IPA, will be taking over the computer lessons and is planning to volunteer at the library when I leave!