Letters From The Ground (unedited...)
Alliance and Kenya High
Thursday, June 21 2001
Hi everyone,

I am at an internet cafe right now, so I don't have very much time. I'm going to give you the update all at once! we went to alliance yesterday and their phone line was down and could not connect to the internet. Until that gets repaired (could take several weeks), the students will not be online. However, Ken and I went to the secretary's computer and used her phone line and hooked it up to the internet. We showed the computer teacher the basics of the Swissimpact site and he seemed very interested. We will try to return to the school at the end of the trip. Also today we went to Kenya High. It was very lovely and the people were very enthusiastic. They actually set up a projector that allowed us to give a demonstration to a class of about 15 students and 2 teachers. The girls were very nice and asked questions and showed much interest. hopefully as susanne said, she can meet them in a chat room this afternoon. I think that sums up everything in relation to the schools. Otherwise, I've been having a nice stay here and Ken has been a great tour guide, giving me info on places we are seeing and putting up with all my questions. We leave on sunday morning to travel to another region. I hope all is well there. Please call my cell phone if you want to get in touch directly. Tom should have the number. Talk to you soon!

Kim

Kisumu
Monday, June 25 2001
Hi everyone,

as you probably gathered, ken and i are in kisumu. we arrived yesterday and the trip here was very scenic. we saw rift valley, mt. longonot and two lakes. also saw huts, villages, and people herding cattle, goats and sheep. there was a nice feeling, seeing how people were so connected to nature. we stayed the night and the next morning we went to kisumu girls. we had many problems connecting but finally we got on the iternet. then we encountered problems logging in. we tried logging in as other highschools, as ourselves, and nothing would go through...it said it was loading, but the loading was taking over 20 minutes. this is when i called niki, but he said the site was working fine internally and also in india. the problem at kisumu had to be site-specific because all other web pages such as yahoo, etc. were working fine and people were able to log in and get their mail. finally after 20 minutes, we were able to log in (from the time we entered as kenyahigh) and using this account, we demonstrated the swissimpact site and talked about putting students in contact with schools abroad, enhancing cultural awareness, sharing information and ideas, getting a homepage up for others to see, etc. etc.
finally a representative from swiftkisumu came to check their connection but the modem had problems dialing in. this took hours to resolve. we also went to africaonline with the computer teacher and now they should be connected without a problem.
i've learned from talking to teachers here that there are two major impediments. one is the telephone lines. they are often down and it takes weeks to get them fixed. this is more of a problem in the rural areas. another hurdle is the cost of internet connection. services like africaonline charge a lot of money for internet connections and many schools are too poor to afford it. however, they are making efforts and we are encouraging them to benefit from the internet and the swiss impact site.
we were told that kisumu boys had no functional computers because of technical problems. we will find out more of the nature of these problems but i hear that it is going to take alot to fix.
right now, ken and i are leaving for maranda where they are expecting us.
hope everything can be worked out from your end. please contact us asap about which schools we should visit.
also, ken said the cost of buying modems here is very expensive, more expensive. than in europe. since we only have a limited amount of modems, what should we do? will you be mailing more?
another update will be coming as soon as possible.

kim

Maranda
Tuesday, June 26 / Wednesday, June 27 2001
we are at maranda high school and just finished up here. yesterday we connected them to africa online and today we demonstrated how to use the internet and how to use the swissimpact website. hopefully they will be communicating regularly. right now, the students are not receiving computer instruction formally, but now that they have the internet set up, the teachers will try out the service, learn it themselves, and once they are familiar they will teach the students. they seem very happy to have the internet here and plan to stay in contact.

at this time, ken and i are going back to kisumu girls to make sure that they are set up and remember how to chat. when we left them, we gave them online services and demonstrated the swiss impact site to the teacher but didn't teach the students. we should be teachign some students this afternoon. we had originally planned on going to ambira high school but we phoned them today and they are still in the process of decidign which ISP to get and whether or not they want one at all (because of the high cost). we are doing all we can to encourage them to benefit from the internet. we can plan to stop by again on our way back if they have decided by that time.

travel delays!

we had initially planned on going to ambira, but they were being indirect in their intentions. ken's colleague in nairobi has been trying to set up an appointment for us to come but they haven't confirmed. plus, they still haven't decided whether or not they want to get an ISP. because of this, we have decided to skip ambira and move on. we told them that we would be in touch on our way back and to be prepared. once we confirm their situation, then we will inform you so that you can set them up with a password.

since we weren't going to ambira, we decided to go back to kisumu girls and make sure they are set up and are comfortable with the swissimpact site. we told them we would arrive by 5pm, but we were delayed in maranda. we weren't able to leave until 3pm and we just now arrived in kisumu. ken should be on the phone with them now telling them that we will arrive tomorrow morning, spend an hour there and continue on.

Kakamega / Butere / Kisumu
Saturday, June 30 2001
Hi everyone. Two days ago, ken and I traveled from Kisumu to Kakamega Boys High school. We met there with people from SwiftGlobal (an ISP) and we got them conencted and familiar with the SwissImpact site. Sofar, they only have one telephone line that is in the office, so the only computer hooked up to the internet is in the office. They have a very modern computer lab that should be getting a phone line soon, and at that time the students will be able to connect to the internet.

After Kakamega, we traveled to Butere Girls High School. The only computer connected to the internet is the one in the principal's house. Her house is on the school grounds, and the computer teacher is allowed to access it. They seemed very impressed by the website and the many things its offers- communication with schools abroad and also schools in Kenya (the computer teacher also teaches biology and was glad to have a look at the biology practical that maranda posted). At this time, they are unable to chat because they only have internet explorer version 4. We tried installing Explorer 5 from the miscrosoft office 2000 CD, but there were problems. The computer teacher said he would install it on his own and try out the chat option then. Their computer lab only consists of 4 computers and they are much in need of more equipment.

We are in Kisumu right now and I think tomorrow we are traveling to Homo Bay.

That's it for now, talk to you soon!

Kisii / Homa Bay / Ogande / Kanga / Agoro /
Monday-Friday, July 3-7 2001
Hi, we are at kisii high school and just finished our demonstration. we are on our way to nairobi in an hour so we expect to arrive late at night. if you want to call on the mobile, we should have reception again. so far, kisii high school is the only high school in south nyanza that has an ISP. The others all have plans but they are no immediate. we will talk more tonight or tomorrow. everything here at kisii is well and we hope that they will be logging in soon.
bye,
kim and ken

hi everyone,

here is what has been going on for the last week (i hope this everything!)...
homa bay high school did not have an ISP when we arrived but seemed very excited about the website and said they were making plans to get an ISP that afternoon or the following day. we gave them our contacts to reach us when they got the ISP so that we could return and give them a demonstration of how swissimpact works, but they never contacted us again. they were hosting a sporting event that day which could be the reason they didn't reach us.
ogande girls is located in a very remote area and they still do not have a telephone line (and so they do not have internet access). they expect to get a phone line in the next few weeks and they said they would contact the odinga foundation to see if we are available. if we are not, we left them with a guide to using the website and hopefully they will be able to follow that. they also were not utilizing all their computers (they had only three...they unpackaged one for us when we arrived, and asked us to install software which we did (windows and office) for two of their computers. at least now they have functional computers and will be ready when the phone line comes to go ISP.
kanga high school did not have an ISP when we were there but they are making definite plans to get one soon. the board of governors hopes that kanga can be a central location for other schools in the area to access the internet. seems promising.
kisii high did not have an ISP the first day we got there but they contacted one and got connected right away. we went back yesterday and we showed them how swissimpact works, and they are (as you can tell) already communicating, which is great! we are glad to see that everything is okay with their connection and that they are eager to participate!
agoro sare did not have an ISP and at the moment only has one functional computer that is available to students. as they have a large student body, we hope that they receive donations soon. for now, their telephone line is not located near the computer but hopefully if they expand on their facilities, they will be able to set up a lab with a phone line near it and get an ISP. this might take a while.
i hope i didn't miss anything! on a general level, i think that the schools in the region are seriously lacking computers. since they are so expensive, they are waiting for donations, but no plans are definite. we would like to see more computer classes getting started in the future since right now, students only have limited access. phone lines seem to be especially a problem in this area and so most are not connected to the internet. we were encouraging to the faculty and administration to get plans under way since the internet is a great resource to have and worth the investment.
the trip to western kenya was fun and interesting. i'm glad that i met many of tom's relatives, they were all so nice in accompanying us and hosting us in the evenings. we also stopped by ken's house along the way and met his family. i am really taken by how warm and inviting people are. everyone sends their greetings.
now we're back in nairobi and i'm making some plans for the weekend. i met one of the national football teams (tusker) while i was staying in kisumu and the trainer might be able to get me some tickets to the game tomorrow. i hope to get in touch with winnie's family and see if maybe her brother willis and francis want to go (if i can get these tickets, keeping fingers crossed!!)
ken and i plan on going to langata high school on monday and one other who's name i forget (i don't have the list on me now)...then we plan to go to the eastern province.
hope everything is well in switzerland. stay in touch!