I weep for my girls in Bai Kuke, who have never seen or touch a computer
Before I left Bamenda for Bai Kuke 2 weeks ago to identify my scholarship beneficiaries, I had all my technology related work done in Bamenda. I had the congratulation letters typed and printed in my house. I had all the "Why the Rescue Women Girls Scholarship" document typed and printed too. I had my Camera's two batteries fully charged. I had my phone battery fully charged. As for my laptop, I could not charge it because my battery is completely down and it can only work with direct current and as a result, I left in Kumba, the last town before taking a long transport drive towards Bai Kuke. Yes, I had every thing I had to do with technology, done, before I even packed my bag.
I did not do this because I am work conscious, but because there is no electricity in Bai Kuke. There is no documentation services in Bai Kuke. A few people who come from Bai Kuke but live in the cities may have private PCs, but it is not a common eye-sight in the village. Even though a few villagers have their private fuel powered generators, it is commonly used during the last quarter of the year when farmers raise money from their cocoa farms. From January to September, it is hard to find the few people with generators switch them on during the night because fuel is very expensive and so people would rather concentrate on feeding their families than spend their little resources to buy fuel.
Poised with the desire to learn, how will my beneficiaries learn effectively in the midst of this very harsh reality. I sat on the veranda of my fathers un-lighted compound thinking of how I could make life better for the beneficiaries and other girls who are struggling to embrace education fully in Bai Kuke. I once again experienced the pain of using a kerosene lamp to read and write, as I identified and took down the background stories of some late-coming beneficiaries who came in the night to get their girls identified for the scholarship. I couldn't blame them for coming late, for I am fully aware that they came back from the farm late. I am a Bai Kuke girl and so I understand everything about my community.
Before I could get done with the girls in the night, with the help of a big kerosene lamp standing on top of my dad's giant dining table, I felt some pinchy aches taking hold of my eyes. I asked for a damp towel so that I could cool down the aches, and yes, I felt relieved for a bit.
Interestingly, all my beneficiaries have never ever had access to the computer and the internet. They didn't even know what it really was. Explaining to them what the internet really was was like using one hand to tie a bundle. They cramped around my little sisters laptop, with keen interest, to learn how to put on and put off a computer. My heart wept for those little girls, whom in the 21st century, have never ever seen a computer.
Curious enough, I asked one of the teachers where they type and print exams and he told me it is all done in Kumba, some 60km away from Bai Kuke, and it is very expensive. Wao! I imagined how I get all my work done in my house in Bamenda, and get all my documents printed in my house as well. I thought of taking one of my desk top to Bai Kuke, but then the lack of electricity will be a hindrance. I can't hold it, my girls need to get frequently in contact with the computer. They really need to.
As I took shots of them using my camera, they were really amazed looking at the shots on the screen of my digital camera. Seeing their faces on a little device made all them to bring out the hidden smiles in them. I smiled, watching them smile.
Because most of my beneficiaries are orphans living in very poor conditions, they have never left Bai Kuke. That is why they have probably never saw a computer or any ICT device, except mobile phones. Even though a few literate youths do access internet using their phones in Bai Kuke, internet access need to go beyond the phone and be accessible to all.
My heart is weeping for my girls. I want them to know how to use the computer and the internet. I want them to make use of the internet. I want them to find success in connecting to the web. What can I do? What can I do sisters? What can I do fellow World Pusarians? I need ideas!!! My heart is seriously weeping.
I think my next project is to buy a solar panel to generate electricity. Buying a small one could light up a room in my father's house and that way, the girls can come there periodically to use the desktop computer that I will give to them. In that room, they can come there to read at night. I am just thinking but I think they are good ideas.
My Lord and My God, help me achieve these dreams. Internet is life, Internet is key to greater success in life!