I woke up in the bed provided by Ann because she was so hospitable to allow us to stay there for the night, very nice. As I was waiting on my ride (that should have arrived an hour earlier), I talked with Ann about what she has going on. As it turns out, she and her husband run an orphanage a ways away and she also runs a microfinance operation that has actually been successful. I was totally fascinated by the fact that she is able to successfully execute a microfinance operation because I had heard that when the government tried it a while ago all of the people took they money because they said, “It’s our money anyways.” And never paid it back. However, Ann’s operation is small, only a couple dozen people, but they spend a whole week teaching them how to handle the money and provide advice on the type of business that makes sense and then they check up once a week or so to see how things are going.
She was telling me that if somebody had an issue with their business, all of the people in that class would get together to pray over the situations. And then also, if one of the businesses failed, the other people in the class would use their profits to pay the loan of the failed business. What great generosity these Africans exhibit. What is wrong with us Americans?
Not only this, but I have met many people that care for some number of orphans, whether 4 or 20 or 150 or 400. These people see the need and respond. They see the kids that have nothing other than a pair of pants and care. They see the kids that were forced to commit atrocious crimes (such as kill their own parents) at ages of 6-12 who are now orphans with no way to recover from their trauma, no place to live, nobody that cares, and no way eat.
I was talking with one woman who’s parents died when she was very young along with all of her parents’ siblings except one. One man in her family was still alive, a priest living in Chicago. She told how she requested help from him, but none ever came. How can a man of the church, a man ordained to live out God on this earth, neglect his own family? I asked her to help me run some numbers on what it would take to support a child. A child can attend school, have a place to live, and eat every day for around $30 USD/month. An opportunity to go to school is immensely valued here; kids (ages 5) will consciously make choices to go without food for days to save up some money to attend school. They all know that school is the only way they can get out of the position they are in.
I’m just taking all of this Africa stuff in. It’s a whole different world.
On a productive note for the day, I worked with two guys most of the day to successfully create and transfer images of one computer to all of the rest. We could deploy these out for use today (although not exactly perfect). I am happy to say that we have a process that works and can be used going forward. They learned a lot today; I hope the retain some of it. Too bad that the stuff I’m having them help me with is stuff that they will likely never use because they will never develop enough technical abilities to understand what all they did and why.
Many of the kids want to “learn computers.” And, since I’m here as the “computer guy” they come to me asking if they can help while I’m here. It’s quite frustrating because I know that I can manage the 12 computers we have significantly (at least 10x) faster than having these 4 guys help me. Patience huh?
It doesn’t help that the education system here is quite bad. None of the education focuses on critical thinking or analytical skills. These students simply regurgitate. They can only solve problems that they have seen before and been given the answer. It is rare that this is thinking about the problem presented, why it’s a problem, why it needs to be solved, and if there is more than one way to solve it.
Tomorrow I will meet with a guy to see if he has enough technical ability to be able to get the café mostly up and running so that I can remotely log in and manage the machines. I certainly hope so, otherwise there may be no hope for this thing…