When inABLE started the computer program at Thika Primary School for the Blind, it was a quiet startup that didn't draw much notice outside the school. No so today - three plus years later with two computer labs operating and our first primary graduating class - we are now receiving international notice.
For instance, on April 16th we received 14 visitors from Nigeria, accompanied by a Kenyan Rotarian Peter from Nairobi East. The group traveled a long way to see exactly how a visually-impaired or blind students learning computer skills in the inABLE computer lab. While the timing of the visitation was not ideal with the schools were closed, we did manage to find a few students who eagerly demonstrated their computer skills. What surprised our visitors the most was the fact that students used a standard keyboard; they all had assumed that assistive technology included a Braille keyboard.
As is customary with most guest visits, our senior Program Coordinator Tim Kajuem gave our guests a tour of the school, including the library (which was also established by inABLE). The large Braille dictionary that was too heavy to be carried by an individual caught our guests’ attention. Its voluminous heft was quite the opposite of the digital dictionary available in the inABLE computer lab.
In astonishment, our guests were left speechless as they watched blind persons use a computer. Peter from the Rotary Club of Nairobi East also had a chance to explain the ways his organization supports inABLE. Collaborative projects including: Renovating the computer lab rooms.
Full of praise for the inABLE program, our guests told us that this visit was one of their best trips ever, and they promised to work together with their local rotary clubs to support inABLE, and they also suggested a possible collaboration with inABLE in Nigeria.
As the Swahili proverb goes Chema chajiuza, kibaya chajitembeza…. “A good word sells itself; a bad one treads on itself”. We very hopeful that these successful visitations - and positive testimonials - will increase support for blind and visually impaired computer training courses, as well as strengthen the inABLE support-base so that we can continue to expand the Computer-lab-for-the-Blind program in Kenya and beyond.
Peter Okeyo is the first inABLE computer-lab-for-the-blind team member and our onsite leader. He's worked around the clock since July 2009 to help launch, develop, and expand computer learning opportunities for the blind in Kenya.
His responsibilities include:
Managing inABLE’s Computer- labs-for-the-blind program, which includes hiring, training and supervising computer instructors, providing training materials for both instructors and students, and also instructs both teachers and students. Peter serves as IT support when preventive maintenance of the computers is required.
In addition, Peter is involved in new projects assessments to determine which school to start a new project based on funds availability, and is the go-to person for project partners and USA team.
Carol Ngondi joined our Kenya team in July 2010. She is the lead Computer Instructor who capably teaches computer skills to both teachers and students. She frequently updates or prepares new computer curriculum, and maintains online students and teachers records. IT support and maintenance is also on her list to-do.
Dorcas Muhoro came onboard as a Computer Instructor June 2012. She also helps educate teachers and students, provides IT support to maintain computers, prepares training curriculum and is always willing to assist with most any task or errand when the need arises.
Dorcas has recently taken on new role managing inABLE blog content. Her new challenge is to make sure that the blog contributors receive articles and news to keep supporters, foundations and supporters informed and engaged.
James Muthike also became part of the Computer Instructors’ team last June. He eagerly works to educate teachers and students and prepare curriculum, while also developing training modules. IT support and maintenance is part of his duties, as well. James’ is ready to assist whenever asked to take the computer lab program to the next level.
Georbert Athoo is inABLE’s newest Computer Instructor. He began in January and is quickly learning the intricacies of the computer-learning program from his fellow instructors. He’s already taken the initiative to develop a visitor welcome screen that can be projected on all computers to educate guests.