I just scanned back over the blogs from 2015. Wow, how to summarize this past year for Reneal IEO? It was a year of exciting success and daunting challenge, and along the way we had a chance to meet so many amazing new people and to reconnect with dear friends. Reneal experienced dramatic growth in 2015, beginning the year with low-cost computer systems in 14 schools and ending it with systems in 26 schools. Neal and I spent almost 6 months overseas engaged in Reneal work. We are definitely living the dream, working alongside marvelous, dedicated professionals in both the Philippines and Tanzania to bring IT to students and teachers there!
The Reneal IEO Board of Directors met yesterday. We recapped the 2015 Tanzania projects and discussed the 2016 Philippines projects ahead. We are very pleased to end 2015 in good shape financially, well-positioned to embark on the coming year!
We’ve been OOO (“out of the office”) much of the last two weeks, enjoying time with family, so there’s not much Reneal news to report. We’re about a month away from the start of the 2016 Philippines projects, but things seem to be coming together pretty well for that. The next Board of Directors meeting is coming soon, so that’s our main near-term focus.
Most of the last week has been spent enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, but we’ve accomplished a few things here. I just prepared a draft agenda for the upcoming Reneal IEO Board of Directors meeting and got that sent out. I’ve been doing some equipment testing, and Neal has been working on the low power, low volume, low cost (L3PCV) R&D project. We’re now about 6 weeks out from our departure to Cebu, so that’s on our minds as well. And as always, we’re energized by the people that we meet that share our passion for serving students and teachers around the world!
It’s been a good week here at Reneal headquarters. As always it is nice to be home after a long time away, especially now that the jet lag demons are finally behind us. We’ve been wrapping up the 2015 work, but 2016 is just around the corner so there is a lot going on in preparation for our mid-January departure for Cebu. Reneal is also embarking on an R&D project to develop a low-power, low-cost, low-volume system for future installations, so Neal has been tinkering with that. And given that Thanksgiving is coming up this week, it’s a great time to reflect on what an exciting year this has been and to feel grateful for our partners, supporters, donors, and of course the teachers we work with who are on the front lines of IT education.
At last Neal and I are back home and wrapping up the 2015 Tanzania projects. This year, Reneal IEO installed computer systems in four schools in Arusha: Mringa Secondary School, Ilboru Secondary School, Enyoito Secondary School, and Oldadai Secondary School. Reneal IEO also installed a computer system at the United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC). Updates to the previously installed computer labs at Mukulat Secondary School, Mlangarini Secondary School, Mwandet Secondary School, and Ilkiding’a Secondary School were also accomplished.
Well, it’s almost certainly premature to declare completion here in Tanzania but finishing the system administration training yesterday for the computer teachers here in Arusha certainly felt like hitting an important finish line. This was the first time we’ve brought all of the computer teachers together in Arusha, and it was a good experience. We were so appreciative of Enyoito Secondary School for hosting the event and for all of the computer teachers for spending their Saturday morning with us! We had lots of technical questions from the group of 25 during Neal’s presentations. Our trusted colleague and friend David Nyangaka from the Arusha District Council office had a chance to discuss with them the factors leading to low usage of the computer labs to date and how to improve that metric.
It’s been a long time since my last post, and I’ll use the excuse that we’ve been at six different locations in the last week. We finished the teacher and student orientation training at Oldadai Secondary School and installed a server at the United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC). We also visited the four schools that had labs installed in 2013 and 2014: Ilkiding’a SS, Mwandet SS, Mlangarini SS, and Mukulat SS. We are looking forward to a quieter day tomorrow, when we will visit the Arusha District Office and go through some of their used computers to see if they can be used for clients.
I postponed my blogging until today so I could triumphantly report that we had finished the work at all four of the schools in our project plan. But, as often happens in our work, there was a bit of a glitch this morning so we’re not quite done yet. The good news – electricity was on when we arrived at Oldadai Secondary School. The bad news – the voltage was varying between 130 volts and 155 volts (with the nominal range here being between 220 and 240!!!). We think the problem is fixable by running a line from the main switch box (which was showing a steady 165 volts) directly to the computer lab, but the clicking UPS and the buzzing servo voltage regulator meant that we weren’t going to work today.
So much has happened since the last post, I don’t really even know where to begin. Last week we completed the installation at Ilboru Secondary School and held two sessions of teacher orientation training. This past Monday we started at Enyoito Secondary School and, with the help of a great team, got everything installed in one day. In between, Neal and I joined Robin and Jacque Kimzey, volunteers from Kids on Computers (www.kidsoncompters.org), on a safari to three of Tanzania’s spectacular parks. The four of us also paid a visit to the United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC) to prepare for an installation later this month.