Monday, October 6, 2008

The Original Vision -- October 2007 Day Two

You know all the promotional materials you see for IF that have us, Micael or Amy or I, training children on the computer? Well, that definitely has not been the original vision of what we hoped to achieve. What we hoped was that one day, we would have the adults who work with and look like the children of Infinite Family, training the children how to use the address book, teaching the difference between double and single clicking with a mouse, and showing them how to determine if the sound is working in their videoconferences. Well, today, we got one step closer to our dream.

For the last two days we have been training the staff of Noah and Refilwe – hugely impressive, dedicated, bright and inspiring people – some of them using computers for the very first time. As all of us know, when beginning the journey of familiarizing yourself with a keyboard, tool bars and all the various and sundry icons that populate any page on a computer, it can be overwhelming and intimidating. But after just six hours of training, with several of the staff skipping lunch to practice, we had four extra trainers when the children of Realogile showed up after lunch to begin their journey as new learners of technology.

Melidah hovered over the shoulder of Sibusisu guiding him as he typed in his password. Nomaza pointed out the choices on the toolbar to Malao. Goodwill made sure that Judith had the chat function “down” in the videoconference corner. Micael and I stood in awe as we watched our dream become a reality.

And then, in the library, where our fledgling Net Buddies learned more about the particulars of how being a Net Buddy works, they shared songs and dances, argued over who knew more about HIV, and encouraged each other with applause as they shyly or boldly shared what made them special.

One of their tasks was to create something that helped us understand what made their country of South Africa special. Colored pencil sketches of beaches and huts emerged from the white paper. Poems enwreathed with flowers and birds blossomed from the children’s creative imaginations. Songs of independence and pride filled the room.

I too shared what made South Africa special to me. I told these lovely, spirited, squirming and curious children that the greatest gift South Africa had to offer the world was them…all of them, sitting across from me, beaming with pride.

We are very fortunate to share in the very best of South Africa…our wonderful Net Buddies.

I think we all agree!

Go Well…as they say in these parts!


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