FORGE Update–Mwange Refugee Camp Computer Lab

Dear Computer Lab Supporters:

The computer lab has gotten off to a great start.  The building has been completed, powered and outfitted with ten laptops, a printer, and furniture.  Classes began on 31 July.  We have seven basic computer skills classes with eighteen students each that will run for nine weeks.  Students are currently covering formatting in Microsoft Word before moving on to Microsoft Excel.  Additionally, other FORGE projects have utilized the computer lab, such as the new Mwange Journal and the Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Program.

In August, we held a community-wide contest to name the computer lab.  From the many entries, John and I chose pieces and formed the name Laboratoire Informatique Safari, in English – Computer Technology Lab: Journey.  With the help of another FORGE worker, we hired some community artists to help us design and paint an incredible mural on the inside wall with a  laptop whose keys turn into the cobble stones of the path.  The desktop scene blends into the scenery of mountains, forests, a river and a lake.  A man is traveling down the road, carrying the bundles of hay so commonly seen here, and a woman is rowing her boat across the lake, filled with packets of the typical Boca fish.

We have also developed the area around the computer lab and library, by funding the construction of new outhouses and a water tap.  Coordination with other Implementing Partners (i.e: Red Cross and World Vision) has been rewarding.  Upon returning we are going to put a sign up on the outside wall of the computer lab with our new name and logo.

Our plans for the future are expanding.  In October, we will reach further out in the community to select our next group of students,  with classes tailored for secondary school students, vulnerable women, Mwange management sectors (such as Red Cross’s Water and Sanitation), the Zambian community and Mwange Community members at large.  We will also be adding more advanced classes, such as typing classes and continued practice sessions for students who have already completed the first round of classes.  We will be recruiting and training selected students to become Educators for future computer classes and monitors for computer center activities.

Over the next year, John and I will also be busy as FORGE’s project managers for Mwange and Kala Refugee Camps.  Through collaboration with the refugee and implementing partners, our team’s projects have been amazingly successful.  The Mwange Journal sold out its first issue, and reporters are already busying compiling new articles.  The students from the Women’s Empowerment Class have come together to plan reproductive health seminars for their community.  The Poetry Club performed its first of their monthly shows for the community, on of hip-hop and rap and the other of poetry.  The Mwange Women’s Agricutural Cooperative has prepared their new piece of land and will be planting seedlings in the next couple weeks.  Face AIDs is preparing to follow suit with their own soya farm to support people with AIDs and orphans both financially and nutritionally.  A core group of peer mentors from the the HIV/AIDs Awareness and Recreation Program will continue classes and education for the community.  The Peace Club is beginning its own vending business in order to become financially self-sufficient.  Students from the piano and guitar classes have amazed us with their talents.  The library is bustling with books and their readers.

None of this could have been accomplished with out the resounding support and assistance we have received from you.  So, with gratitude from all of us and the Mwange community, thank you so much.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Amani na Furaha,

Jolie and John

Computer Center Directors

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