| June 25, 2011

“Yeah! Let’s pick another one!”


By Sara Rhyne, Worldreader Volunteer (and contest winner)

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.

One pair got to the end of their book, looked at each other and exclaimed:  “Yeah! Let’s pick another one!”