Quite a while back, we were sitting at the airport with the woman who runs the NGO World Vision here in Vanuatu. We discussed the possibility of me running a computer basics workshop for some of their staff on Pentecost. Nothing came of it for quite a while. Recently, they got in touch with the school and myself to work out the details and get the workshop run. It was the last thing I did before coming in for COS and one of the most successful things I’ve done in my service.
The workshop was four days long with seven participants. We started with the basics the whole first day as none of them had used a computer before. They generally picked it up decently well. The usual problems of moving the mouse when clicking and figuring out where the keys are were there but they got better through the week. The second day was devoted to Word and information you can get through computers via various encyclopedias. Word isn’t that hard of a concept, we’ve all written on paper, and the encyclopedias are always a hit. The third day was the heaviest working on excel. This was by far the hardest. Numeracy is a big problem in this country. They don’t know how to set up spreadsheets and have to use calculators to do basic math. The excel sessions were as much about that as how to actually use the program itself. Hard as they had to work at this, they definitely got how useful it would be in their work as we used budgets and survey results as examples. The fourth we slowed down to talk about maintenance and look at Powerpoint and Publisher. Viruses are huge here so any new user needs to learn about protecting themselves. Equally important is taking care of the computer physically and backing up the data in case of issues, a hard thing to get across anywhere.
The participants really made this workshop as awesome as it was. In addition to the 6 hours during the day where I was running the sessions, I opened the lab as an optional time for them to practice at night. Every one of them came every night. Gaea also came in and helped out some, mostly during these evening sessions. They worked so hard and I could see so much progress through the week. They were also very appreciative students. On the last day, two of them called me over to show me a letter they had written up in word to thank me. It was incredibly touching.
At the end of the workshop we had a proper closing with certificates, speaches, and refreshments. The students gave each of us a basket and gave me a tsip (small red mat). After having been apprehensive about the length of the workshop when we were setting it up, I was sad to have it end in some ways. A fantastic experience overall.
Then, while I have been in Vila I had the opportunity to sit down with World Vision and give them a review of the workshop and the participants’ great effort. I hope this will help us continue building relationships with the various NGOs so that we can all do our jobs better and help the people of Vanuatu more effectively.