As soon as I arrived in Garoua, Simone and the members of FEPES were ready to work. One of the first things they spoke to me about was building a computer lab and multimedia center for the women they work with.
At first, I was hesitant. Mostly I was worried about fundraising for my first activity at post. You see, during training, and throughout our service, volunteers are reminded that we are here as capacity builders and trainers and not as funders. We spend a lot of time telling people we are not here to give out money or materials, and fundraising for this project seemed to contradict everything I had been saying to date. Secondly, I was not sure Garoua needed a computer lab. I hadn’t had a chance to conduct a needs assessment.
After a year of working with FEPES and the women of Garoua, I have seen that the computer lab and multimedia center are necessary and practical in this context. This computer lab will help the women we work with create the documents necessary to formalize their groups. It will also allow them to gain technical training that will help them grow in their professional careers. They may even have access to jobs they never considered before because they were computer illiterate.
Also, the girls who are enrolled in school will have an affordable option to practice their theoretical computer skills they learn in class. You see, most high schools have computer classes, but do not have working machines that students can manipulate. If students learn the keys on the keyboard, but never learn how to type, do they know how to use a computer? No. This center will be one solution to this disconnect.
Once the computer lab is built, it will provide affordable computer classes to girls and women in Garoua. Centers that are already offering computer classes are charging 30.000 F CFA or more per month. We will be offering courses at 5.000 F CFA per month. We are able to keep the registration fees low because all of the trainers will be teaching on a volunteer basis (encouraging volunteerism among Cameroonians) and all of the startup costs will be contributed through in-kind donations from the community and FEPES members AND through generous donations from friends and family through the Peace Corps website. Click here to donate.
With the 5.000 F CFA/student fee, we will be building a library and improving the computer lab. The fees will be distributed into three funds: 25% of the fees will help pay for electricity and other monthly expenses; 50% will go to a fund to replace or fix computers in the long run; and 25% will go to a library fund to build a collection of school textbooks and other reading materials.
The library is an important aspect of the project because it provides another necessary resource in Garoua. Besides lacking computers, the girls of Garoua face many obstacles. Often, parents choose to send their sons to school rather than their daughters. If girls are permitted to attend school, they usually don’t have textbooks or school supplies necessary to succeed.
FEPES is working to increase the enrollment of girls in secondary school through other projects, and the library will be a great parallel project to support their efforts. Since FEPES does not have the resources to provide school supplies or textbooks to all of the girls they help enroll, the library will provide a complete set of textbooks that girls can borrow to complete their schoolwork. Girls will then be able to come to the center to do their homework and read the materials for the next day’s classes. This will, hopefully, increase their likelihood of succeeding in or completing their schooling.
As you can see, this computer lab is more than just a gift. It is a resource that is sustainable and will grow over time. That is why I am wholeheartedly behind this project and hope that you will consider contributing.
Help make this center a reality and improve the lives of women and girls in Garoua by clicking here.
AND, A BIGGGGGGGG thank you to everyone who has already contributed to the project. Be sure to check back for more on the center and the rest of our work together!