“Yeah! Let’s pick another one!”
Today was the official e-reader community launch in Kilgoris, Kenya– where Worldreader has partnered with The Kilgoris Project. Yesterday, I was in the classroom witnessing the first moment e-reader technology entered students’ lives. I am living true “Before and After” moments– all around the introduction of e-readers into Kenya!
There were a couple of hundred parents and community members present at the community launch, not including all of the children. I started to tally all the speakers, but lost count after 8 and about 2 hours (it went for 5!). I loved watching the Maasai elders hold up their e-readers and pledge their support for the project. My favorite part of the day, however, was getting a Maasai name- Namnak which means “the lucky one”. Shadrack told me since I did not know when I would be back in May and ended up back in Maasai land after just four weeks, I was the Lucky One. It sure feels that way to me. (Worldreader note: Sara was just too awesome to keep her away. So, we invited her back and we’re thrilled with what she‘s accomplishing there. Sara’s a rock-star and is making history!)
There is so much to say, but I will sum it up with some memorable quotes from the day.
Shadrack, the School’s Principal: “If you want to plan for a year, you plant rice. If you want to plan for 10 years, plant trees, and if you want to plan for 100 years– you educate.”
Community Councilor: “It is not what you get; it is how you develop it. Our children have been helped, now the community needs to bring them to school in large numbers.”
Caren, from The Kilgoris Project, said: ” E-readers, just like cows, have great value. I know you’ll care for this special herd, but just don’t hit these with a stick– they will break!”
And, this is truly amazing, I heard someone say: “It is said in Kenya that if you want to keep your money safe, do not put it into a bank, do not put it in your bedroom, place it between the pages of a book and put the book on the shelf and when you go back it will still be there, but now that the e-reader has come to Kenya, this might not be true anymore.“
And yesterday was the first day that I witnessed the kids getting to explore the e-readers on their own. It was magical. For the first time, the kids had “free reading time” – where they could independently explore and read whatever they wanted and then read it simultaneously aloud.