Thanks to Activated Ministries the school at Bosovilla, Ghana which serves over 600 students from four different villages, just received four brand new computers! As a result, the 120 older students will now have regular IT classes!
In recent years, Ghana has progress rapidly in the use of computers. In the capital, Accra, computers are used in many homes and business. One can find an endless number of internet cafes, computer supply shops and computer training schools. But in the far flung villages like Bosovilla, where connection to electricity only came recently, computers are almost unheard of.
The story actually begins when Christie, a former employee of Extra Mile, told us that she was taking exams and applying to a teaching school in order to become a teacher. When she passed her exams and it came to our notice that she didn’t actually have the money needed to enroll in the school, we were able to find a local businessman who was willing to sponsor her studies.
After three years of training, Christie graduated and, as part of the required national service scheme, she was posted to Bosovilla. The shock of living so far removed from society quickly hit home when Christie arrived there and discovered that there was no electricity, no running water, no shops, no nothing, except dust, cocoa farms and the school. Being an energetic and dedicated young woman she cheerfully took up her job of teaching 60 preschoolers daily. She told me later that she was surprised how much energy it took. “I felt sick at the end of each day.”
One day when she was on leave, she came to visit us and we got to talking about the children in the school. Christie told me “They have no idea what the world is like. All they know is the village and the farm. Some of them aren’t even motivated to study as they don’t know what the possibilities are.” We came up with a plan to get donated books for the school in order to expose the children and young people to pictures and literature from the outside world. A few months later we were able to deliver the first batch of colorful bright reading books! The staff and teachers were thrilled to get the books and also happy that we had taken an interest in their school. They then asked if we could somehow help them get computers for the school.
We were able to get two computers donated locally. Then we applied to Activated Ministries for this need and were so happy when they agreed to give four more computers! Now the school would have seven computers! It took several months to get all the details worked out and then wait for the computers to be shipped from the US. Finally, we found ourselves on the road to Bosovilla with the four computers in the back. As we drove, I thought that I had never seen so many potholes in my life! The driver tried to get around them by swerving all over the road but it didn’t really work and thinking of the computers, I would cringe each time the car went “thump thump” through a pothole. Once we had run “the pothole gauntlet” which took over 4 hours, we came to the dusty dirt road that turns off from Oda. When I say dusty, I mean really dusty. When we arrived we had to dust everything, including ourselves.
We were very happily received by everyone at the school. The older boys unloaded the computers. After we had taken some photos in front of the school we took the computers inside to set them up. Even though the village now has electricity, it happened to be off that day. Thank God for the generator! Within a few minutes they had it up and running and we worked on setting up the computers. We set up the four new computers next to two already there and the library turned into a computer lab! Many of the older students and members of the PTA were there to watch the event. So with a crowd of 30 people watching, the two IT teachers and I set everything up and got it running. I was so relieved when finally all the cables, mouses and keyboards had found their way to the right places. Whew.
Next we brought in some of the young people who would be having classes on these computers. We sat them down for a little impromptu “orientation class”. I could tell that these students have had a few classes about computers. One young woman actually found the Word processor and started typing her name. Others browsed through the photos and videos that are included with Windows 7 and one young man went straight to the games! The two IT teachers helped them and pointed things out to them as they went along. Michael is one of the IT teachers and he also teaches biology and social studies. He told me. “These new computers will make our IT class much more possible. We have been trying, but it’s not easy without enough computers.”
Isaac, the headmaster, was thrilled to see all the computers lined up there in the library/computer lab. He was the one who first appealed to us for computers. He kept leaning over the students shoulders to see what they were doing and helping them if they were stuck on something. Even to me it was amazing to be way out here in such an isolated place but to see all those students sitting there on computers. I felt like we had helped bring real progress to the region.
I was actually surprised to find such a large, well-organized school in such an small village. The students were tidy and orderly in their uniforms and some of the school buildings were new. The whole outside of the school was well painted. But what impressed me the most was the teachers. I was shocked at first to drive all the way out there and find such friendly, dedicated, intelligent people. They seemed very capable of teaching the many kids in their care. I found out from talking to Christie, that one of the major problems the school faces is lack of teachers. Sometimes a person will be assigned to that school but will never even show up. There are almost two hundred kindergarteners who are usually divided in three classes but one of the teachers just left, so now all those little kids are divided between Christie and one other teacher. I really admire Christie and the other teachers for the challenging job they do.
The actual village of Bosovilla is very small with a population of just over 1,300 people. There aren’t even any real shops there, just a few small tables where people might sell odds and ends. It’s impossible to buy any kind of food supplies or staples besides the locally grown and prepared “fufu” and perhaps some soup made with palm oil and meat. The reason the school is so big is that it serves four other villages as well as Bosovilla. Some of the children and young people walk as much as a mile each way to come to school everyday. Others, who live too far to walk, board with friends or relatives in the village and go home on the weekend.
About half of the young people at the school will leave the village for work or further study. For those who leave, having that basic knowledge of computers will greatly help them and broaden their work and study options. They will also be much more likely to access the internet where it is available in bigger towns. For those who remain in the villages, we never know what will happen as a result of their computer studies. Perhaps after studying computers in school, those teenagers will return to their villages and want to get computers for themselves and their families. These classes could help bring progress to many people. Thank you Activated Ministries for making this progress possible.