Success Story #1: pt. 1
29 December 2018: Back in Pemba
My first trip to Zanzibar—and specifically the island of Pemba—was last year at the very end of 2017 into the very beginning of 2018 and clearly it was a life changing experience, not only for myself but for the other two co-founders of techdren, Jackie and Abbey. After all the preparation and hard work between that first visit to Pemba and the most recent one I was predictably excited. When I first stepped off the tiny plane which took us on a short ride from Dar es Salaam to Pemba I couldn’t keep the huge grin off my face. It felt even better than I had anticipated to be back because this time I had a purpose. I was helping to finish a promise made before Jackie, Abbey, and I even travelled to Pemba two years ago: to give laptops to Kangagani and Ole Primary Schools
30 December 2018: Official Laptop Ceremony
The very first thing we did upon arriving in Pemba, after the initial welcome and some much needed sleep, was an official ceremony for the donation of the laptops—this eagerness to have the laptops in their hands as soon as possible was telling of their own excitement. The ceremony started when our bus pulled up to Kangagani Primary School and myself along with the rest of the 18 students and 3 professors piled out lugging 2 suitcases filled with the 45 laptops, 3 solar panels, and a multitude of charging cables. We were greeted in the school’s grassy inner courtyard by students and teachers from both Kangagani and Ole Primary Schools and our partners at Kidike Environmental Conservation Club, who helped make this day a reality, and the typical camera crew that follows the Champlain class around everywhere they go (for the benefit of the associated tour company’s advertising). I sat with the Champlain College professors, Dr. Scudder and Dr. Wehmeyer, at the front of the rest of the class with everyone else spread out in a half circle in front of us.
The ceremony started out on a standard note with a brief speech from the Director of Schools stating their appreciation of our efforts and welcoming us to the school before it took a distinctive Pemban turn (by which I mean a bit over the top and overwhelmingly welcoming and accepting). The students had two distinct and moving dances for us. The first dance was with the older primary students who sang of accepting everyone, a particular line from the song that stood out to me was, “short or tall, big or small, black or white we love them all”. This song and dance moved a good portion of the Champlain students to tears, especially those which were studying Education. The second dance did not have as much of an associated song and this time it was the younger primary students who were performing. One of these dances can be seen below because my words don’t do them justice.
The ceremony then moved back to a more formal note with another speech from the Director of Schools and Headmasters of the two primary schools. Dr. Wehmeyer and myself then followed up with our own speeches. Finally, it ended with a ceremonial passing over of the laptops. About 10 Champlain students were selected to each hand over a laptop to a selected group of the students. (This was mainly to involve more people in the ceremony and have good photo opportunities.) I personally handed over laptops to both the Headmaster of Kangagani and Headmistress of Ole. This signified the end of this bit and the suitcases of technology were safely passed off and we were all herded back onto the bus and off to our next destination.
I later came to learn that the video our hosts took of us and the ceremony as a whole would serve a dual purpose. One of which I already knew of: to promote tourism in Pemba and a second: which none of us would of predicted. On one of our last mornings in Pemba, when we were sitting down for breakfast and ginger tea, the TV was playing the local news which broadcasted video of the Zanzibar Independence Day festivities. In the middle of this they added the footage taken from the laptop ceremony we had done days before. Now, I can rightfully say, I have many suitors in Pemba, since I’m basically tv famous.
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