We are excited to report a major highlight this last week, a Reneal IEO workshop in Arusha coordinated by Reneal School Liaison David Nyangaka. David has been very active these last six months, working with the computer teachers at our eight Arusha schools to troubleshoot problems and identify teaching materials. Very few public high schools in Tanzania have computers, so these teachers are very much pioneers in introducing their students to technology. This workshop was a chance to bring everyone together to discuss issues, challenges, and ideas for teaching IT.
That fantastic batch of donated laptops from Polycom has been an exciting distraction from the 2016 preparations. We still have work to do to complete the operating system upgrade to 16.04 for the September 2016 Cebu projects, but Neal is already in shopping mode for 2017 server parts for Tanzania and the Philippines.
Euphoria? Relief? Gratitude? Anticipation? Yes… all that and more this week! Monday Neal, Reneal Board member Steve Guerzon, and I traveled to the Polycom warehouse in Tracy to pick up a magnificent donation of 86 used laptops and adapters. We are still reveling in the knowledge that 2017 is going to be a banner year for Reneal as we distribute these units to public high schools in the Philippines and Tanzania!
Life overseas typically involves a lot of bug squashing, from tiny biting ants to impressively large and mobile cockroaches. Here at Reneal Headquarters in Fremont, we are happy that we can peacefully co-exist with a few benign spiders – however right now we’re doing battle with a more challenging variety of bugs, those found during major software upgrades.
The Reneal IEO Board of Directors met yesterday. Our Board meets three or four times a year to discuss recent programmatic accomplishments, review the current financial status, and chart our future course. We had a lot to talk about, between the imminent Cebu projects starting in September and the opportunities on the horizon in 2017. We were also excited to hear that the scholarship committee at UCCP (United Church of Christ in the Philippines) in Compostela met this week to discuss candidates for the four additional scholarships being offered this school year. Reneal IEO funds the scholarships, but our partners at UCCP administer the program with great care and thought.
These last couple of days, Neal and I have been living vicariously through the journey of Katherine Yen and Marcus Lee, friends of Reneal IEO, as they visit Cebu. Katherine and Marcus graciously agreed to deliver some computer hardware and supplies to Jade and the schools Cebu during their trip to the Philippines. Meanwhile back here at headquarters, we had another great meeting yesterday with Judy and Denis Severson from The School Fund, brainstorming how we might collaborate in our work in Tanzania.
School Year 2016-2017 is just days away in the Philippines, so this week was the official Brigada Eskwela – a time for preparation of school campuses prior to the start of classes on June 13th. Sir Jade visited Daanbantayan Wednesday to check on preparations for the September projects in Cebu. While up north, he was able to help Sir Chester at Daanbantayan National High School open up the four newly-arrive balikbayan boxes and get the new flat panel monitors set up.
Lots of things on the to-do list this week, some of which actually got accomplished. The most exciting was meeting with Judy and Denis Severson of The School Fund – more on that below. We also heard just this morning that the first four balikbayan boxes arrived at Daanbantayan National High School. Those boxes left here on March 23rd and contained computer equipment purchased from the Silicon Valley Chapter of the World Computer Exchange (www.worldcomputerexchange.org). Jade is planning to head up to Daanbantayan this week to begin the cabling, so it’s a wonderful bit of timing that he can also work with Sir Chester to check out the newly arrived equipment.
As of yesterday, every last one of the 80 monitors donated by Free Geek is in a box now, either ready for shipment to Cebu or on its way already. What a thrill it is to know that we will be equipping schools with new computer labs as well as addressing CRT attrition in existing labs! We send a huge THANK YOU to Free Geek for this game-changing donation and to Katherine Yen and Marcus Lee for their help in getting everything packed for shipment. And in addition to the boxes flowing out of Reneal IEO headquarters, World Computer Exchange just made their first foray into balikbayan box shipping, sending five boxes to Cebu stuffed with desktops, keyboards, and mice purchased by Reneal in support of the 2016 projects.
It’s been another week of progress in testing, packing, and shipping computer equipment to Cebu for our September projects. Katherine was back Monday, and the garage is looking spacious again with only one final row of monitors to tackle. We also have a stack of desktops and laptops that have their disks wiped and are ready to go. We are expecting at this point to deploy them for the as-yet-undetermined 2017 projects. While I hate to let hardware sit unused until we return to Cebu early next year, it’s clear that we already have a full plate for the September 2016 trip with five new installations, the 2nd Annual Cebu Open Source Software Championship, and system administration training.