I’m currently in Africa, Uganda to be specific. On Wednesday (Jan 9th, 2014), we traveled to Bussi Island (in Lake Victoria and located just south of Entebbe). We were there to work with a school/orphanage in a remote village. We were assisting with a water harvesting system, meeting with women’s groups, enlarging a swing set, delivering drums, working on micro-loans, etc.
Traveling with us was Michael Flynn, a research engineer from NASA (National Aeronautic and Space Administration). We asked the headmaster if it would be okay to make a short PowerPoint presentation about America’s space program to the older students. The headmaster liked the idea, and suggested that we also invite interested villagers.
Since the village didn’t have power, we had brought a small battery-powered LED projector with us. But the projector needed fairly dark conditions. So we decided to wait until evening for the presentation.
At 7 pm, we headed out from our guesthouse to the center of the village. For a screen, we used a white curtain borrowed from the guesthouse which we hung on a small outbuilding. We then set up the projector, backup power system, and laptop computer. Fifty-plus adults and students circled around the screen and projector.
The engineer from NASA gave a great presentation, complete with animated graphics about a recent Mars landing. Despite a few distractions, the presentation went very well. Several times, Michael encouraged the children to stay in school, and study both math and science. After the presentation was over, there were quite a few questions.
In all, it was a very surreal experience. At night, in the center of a very poor Africa village, making a presentation about the NASA space program. This is one evening that I will not soon forget.
Small battery-powered projectors, small powerful speakers, and laptop computers would seem to be a game changer for Africa. With these devices, it is now possible to improve the quality of education with a very small investment. Many of the school that we interact with are very remote and very primitive, but it now possible to show educational movies, PowerPoint presentations, etc. We are now asking each school to have at least one classroom that we can darken during the day.