Once again Free Geek in Portland has made a generous grant of used computer equipment to Reneal! We are so thrilled to have an additional 80 monitors, 10 desktops, 30 keyboards, and 100 mice to deploy in 2017 in the Philippines! Combined with the laptop grant from Polycom in June, we have a very exciting year ahead in the works.
Neal and I spent the last week enjoying the waning days of summer in the Sierra Nevadas on a backpacking trip. Now it’s full speed ahead for Cebu! Since my last post, Jade, Rhog, and Lloyd have been to Carmen National High School and Tominjao National High School to complete the Ethernet cabling and lab set-up. The final boxes of equipment for 2016 have arrived at Compostela National High School and are ready for deployment to the various schools. Jade has compiled a list of gear that we still need to buy, including LOTS of power strips from one of our favorite Cebu suppliers, Ace Hardware!
Exciting news! Forty of the laptops donated by Polycom in July are on their way to the Philippines! Katherine and I packed four boxes last Monday. We tried to do it in a modular fashion, with two boxes required per school. Each pair of boxes contains 20 laptops, 20 laptop adapters, a network switch, and a monitor, keyboard, and mouse for the server. We just need to add the server itself, 20 mice (one for each laptop), a UPS, and some Ethernet cables and – voila! – a computer lab! It’s nice to have hardware for two 2017 schools already in the pipeline!
Reneal IEO Intern Jade Reyes has been up in Daanbantayan in northern Cebu for the last couple of days, along with Rhog and Lloyd, our two college students doing their on-the-job-training under Jade’s direction at Arcelo Memorial National High School. The guys worked with Sir Chester at Daanbantayan National High School and Sir Denver at Calape National High School to set up the client computers sent by Reneal and to do the network cabling. As Jade said, now it’s just “plug-and-play” for Neal with the main server! Next weekend the guys will go to Carmen National High School and then back up north the following weekend to do the prep work at Tominjao National High School.
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.