19th April 2009
Well, that's the first month down for Meaningful Volunteer.
What's been happening? Lotsa. Meaningful Volunteer
formed a partnership with IRH,
control group testing for the RYE School, the
RYE School Summer program was launched,
new volunteers arrived,
Project Lifecycle got some structure, a
motorcycle was purchased,
Cycle Beads are now available online,
office space was rented and
four laptop computers were purchased.
Gasp. Pant. Gasp.
And that's just the stuff for March.
So, what's been learnt?
Our two big projects at the moment are the
RYE School Summer Program and
Project Lifecycle. One of the biggest problems for both of
these projects is - well - me. I'm critical for both of
them. If I were hit by a bus, it would be game over for
both projects. I don't like this. (Especially the getting
hit by a bus bit...)
I did lotsa preparation work for the RYE School project
especially. There is a lot of cool online stuff that
allows the teacher to get ready for their lessons, print lesson
plans, print in-classroom materials and so on. The
Internet is just a trickle at the moment. Far too slow to
use the online tools. So everything has to be done via my
development laptop. This creates a real bottleneck.
So now we are investing a lot of time and money into getting
high speed internet to the island. It should be
technically possible (there is a satellite service here), but
maybe not practically possible (getting a technician here).
Project Lifecycle is a politically charged project. If it
goes wrong, it goes really wrong. So I've been
micromanaging it when I'm unable to do the work myself.
I really don't like it that I am so important to both projects.
One of my goals for this year is to make myself no longer
necessary. I wanted to have the projects so well designed, that
any old person could do them. This is achievable for the
RYE School (provided we have high speed Internet), but not for
Project Lifecycle. Hopefully some replication lessons will
be learnt on the way.
Since we have no volunteers for Project Mangrove, it hasn't
really had much attention. I have been working hard on a
project plan for it though. So hopefully when we do
get volunteers, the project will click into life.
One of the more exciting projects I'd like to do is called the
Educational Walkway. It would fall under the School
Building and Maintenance program. The barangay
(village) of Cawayan is located up in the hills. Most
students walk up and down a dirt track to get to work.
When it rains, it is just not practical for them to get to
school. This is having a huge impact of their education.
Our control group testing showed that students in Cawayan scored
an average of about 85, while students in other areas averaged
about 100. I attribute this to the hill.
So what's to be done? I want to build a set of concrete
steps up the hill. This would have a huge impact on the
community. Not only in terms of education, but also in
terms of health - you could get sick people to hospital quicker;
their economy - you could transport goods out of the village
quicker and therefore cheaper; and just make their life so much
I think it is a winning idea. The volunteer fees would pay
for the concrete and the volunteer and locals could build the
road. I am sure that the locals would be more than happy
to provide free labor as it would be such a boon for their
It's been a great first month. I'm very much looking
forward to the second!