About Me

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A man of many words. Profane, profound, loyal to a fault and a right rat bastard. I love the finer things in life: expensive cigars, cheap women and all the salted, cured meats I can eat. A friend to dogs, lover of humanity and despiser of people. If I were King the world would be a better place, because, well...I would be King! Oh, and I like ice cream.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

What They Need

Following my picture of the Pre-School I was asked by a loyal reader (one of six) if the kids needed supplies of any kind.

Sigh! Where to start? The government provides the VERY basics, paper, pencils, etc. but these kids (and even or ESPECIALLY older ones) need EVERYTHING! Those who know me well know I'm not the most sensitive SOB in the world. I tell you when I visited that little school and saw what they DIDN'T have it about broke my heart. By that I mean things you wouldn't ordinarily think about: games, puzzles, coloring books, crayons... Americans would blow a gasket if their kids were supplied as poorly. They mean well. It's just there isn't enough money to get the things little kids, EVERY little kid, should have.

Things that make you have to think to solve, to work together with others.

See, the educational system here is about where the US was a century ago. Rote learning. The teacher drills them and they respond accordingly. When you ask a kid for his/her opinion you get a blank stare. You get that even from the adults. After all, they are products of the same system.

You talk to kids and they are stunned that you consider them as thinking people. If you can send anything along those lines you will be doing a world of good.

We talk about building capacity among the people in Africa. Get them to the point where they can develop without outside help. So, how does a coloring book build capacity? If one child realizes he or she CAN think and DECIDE for themselves you have built capacity.

The other Peace Corps Volunteer in my village recently met the former Botswana Minister of Health, a physician. Female even. She told her she was inspired by a Peace Corps volunteer teacher she had in Science class Standard Nine (9th grade). That volunteer will never know she gave a push to a future Minister of Health for a country. that's like a Cabinet post.

So you never know.

Also, if anyone with IT expertise could give some advise or help. One of the schools actually has some IMacs, circa 1997. They are all of course basically paperweights. The operating systems are so corrupted as to be about useless. The kids are taught typing skills on turned off computers. Does anyone have an old Windows OS Disc to try to re-format these things? I don't even know if that is possible. Even if you let me know it can't be done would be helpful information.

My address again is:

Mike Wigal
PO Box 170
Charles Hill, Botswana

That's in Africa


Hani said...

Welcome to Africa, Mike.

Windows can't be installed on those pre-intel imacs (not without some major hackery anyway). Depending on the condition of the hardware, I guess you can always try install some flavor of Linux (Ubuntu, Slackintosh, etc). I am not sure about linux hardware support issues on older iMacs, but if you can get basic functionality I guess it's worth the trouble. My worry is that imacs that old will probably lack the horsepower to run the GUI for Ubuntu, so it might require a lot more technical tinkering to get things working than you can probably pull off on your own.

Checkout this guide http://pingswept.org/2006/01/08/installing-xubuntu-on-a-g3-imac/

If you think you can take a stab at that, I'll send you the disk. Just let me know.

Enjoy Responsibly said...

Hello Mike -- you don't know me, but I stumbled upon your blog when I was doing some research about the whole Peace Corps experience.

I'm a kid compared to you. 22 years old, on my way out of college, and eager to chase the sun as it rises and falls every day, like some kind of Pink Floyd song. Anyway, I found some amount of solace in your entries and decided to begin with your earliest entries.

To make a long story short, I've decided to hold off on PC and pursue a life devoted to journalism (I entered college and remained an engineer for a the majority of the time) and hopefully travel. Anyway, I applaud your decisions while realizing that they aren't for everyone. Perhaps one day you will receive a package from me to help aid your students.

Kenneth said...

I concur with hani. Linux is definitely the way to go here. EXCEPT for the fact that the first iMac's came with only 32MB of RAM memory. The graphical installation CD will not work since it requires at lest 128MB RAM. You would have to start with a text based installation and then add the graphical user interface, but then you run into the problem of downloading packages from the internet. (I don't know how accessible that is for these computers, but they do have an Ethernet jack)

The best way would be to build a custom linux-install cd with lowest memory requirement options (in the link above) and then send it to you. I don't have either the knowledge or an iMac to do it, but both can be acquired if you can wait a couple of months.