Back from Sierra Leone and the rest of my travels.

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Well actually I’ve been back a few weeks but its been so busy since I got back.  All positive though.  We have had a lot of press coverage in Birmingham about Sierra Leone which is helping to raise more money.

The trip was amazing – Sierra Leone is such a beautiful country with such bad poverty.  We went the local market one day and locals were buying bread for 20 or 50 Leones (the local currency), where a can of Coke would cost us 1000 Leones and œ1 ($1.5) is 5000Leones.  Scary thoughts.

They are so excited about us bring computers over.  Can’t believe we will help set up the first computer lab in a school in the country.

We did visit the only place they teach computers in the country.  The computers were so old and I found the teaching book.  "Microsoft Office for Windows 95"  How times have changed…

We took 1000s of photos and if you want to see them add me as a friend on facebook and have a look, they are amazing.  We’ve been donated a Gallery at the Mailbox (posh area of Birmingham, UK) where we can display the images and people can buy them and the money goes to the charity – which is why they aren’t on flickr.

As I mentioned we have had a lot of press coverage and have a look at articles here.

http://www.thisissuttoncoldfield.co.uk/greatbarr/Dream-help-Sierra-Leone-school/article-472420-detail/article.html
http://www.thisissuttoncoldfield.co.uk/news/campaign-help-change-lives/article-489353-detail/article.html

Here are two of my favourite images

The lad in the black and white photo work for the hotel where we stayed.  Their job is to fill the water tub so water can be used in the baths of the 5 room hotel.  The kid on the right nearest the camera can’t go to school, well all of them can’t but he use to go to school and can’t any more because his dad can only afford for one of his sons to go.  Now his younger brother is old enough he goes to school instead.  School costs around $7 a term.

The 2nd is my favourite of all.  Just sums up my whole trip.

SL1

SL2

Project in Sierra Leone – including SharePoint

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Next week I’m off to Sierra Leone in Africa to visit a school.  The school is called Waterloo School which is about 2 hour drive from the capital, Freetown. http://www.waterloo-schools.org/

WaterlooSchool

The school I work for are going to create a partnership between the schools and we are looking at how we can send our old computers to the school.  So this trip is a wrecky to find out what we need to do get computers there.

We have been donated an internet satellite dish for the school allowing the computers to be networked and be on the internet highway.  Sierra Leone has the population of around 5 million and 11000 of those are internet users.  When we have installed the internet we will be enabling another 1800 pupils in the country.

One of our goals is to get kids communicating between the school in Sierra Leone and Birmingham and we are hoping that SharePoint and the Microsoft Learning Gateway will help us to do that.  At the moment we are running SharePoint 2007, Exchange 2007 and OCS2007 within the school which can also be accessed from home by the pupils.  These are services are want we to provide to the pupils of Waterloo school.SLNetwork

We are hoping to get pupils talking over instant messenger, emailing each other, blogging, video conferencing and collaborating with each other on work.

We are also hoping to help the school in Sierra Leone giving it the same benefits as all British schools with a learning environment and give the kids a better opportunity.

While we are there we are going to help build the first school based science lab in the country as well as meet Ministers from the country about our goals.

Sierra Leone is the worlds poorest country and is still broken from its civil war that ended in 2003.  Life expectancy is 40years old,  and 27% of children die before their 5th birthday.  This alone makes it a very challenging to visit the school and it worries me to think what will I see there.

Another thing about this visit that comes to mind is about my hotel room.  I don’t know what its going to be like but I’ve been told it has satellite TV, but I’m guessing I’m getting water through a tap, toilet, bed and its costing $10 US a night.  I think this is just amazing to think what $10 dollars does in such a poor country.

We are taking football/soccer shirts over for the kids, I have loads of shirts to take, more than my bag can take.  A Saturday football team have donated a whole strip for us to take.  I saw this video of David Beckham visiting Sierra Leone and I hope the shirts bring just as much joy.  David Beckham visits Sierra Leone

I hope our trip is successful and we can start the ball rolling and get the computers to this country.  I don’t think its that simple with licensing and rules with broken monitors and disposing of equipment in a environmentally friendly way.

I want to finish this post with a video all our pupils saw at school in assemblies during the week.  My boss who is also going created it and its very challenging.  During the week I saw 2600 pupils not blink an eye as they watched this video in the school hall.  I hope it get your thinking as well.