Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Computer Aid International

Computer Aid International

Need computers for your Community Technology Center, School, or NPO (not-for-profit organization) in Jinja and other locations in Uganda? Check out these guys at Computer Aid International based out of London, England.

I watched a short news program about this organization on BBC World TV last October 2003, and they have been ramping-up their efforts to distribute used computers to communities and organizations in the developing world ever since. There are a number of organizations and corporations with similar programs to help bridge the Digital Divide through intelligent recycling of IT technology hardware, and CAI is one of the outstanding ones.

Spend some time on their website learning about what they do and how it works, then let me know how you could use such a service in Uganda or elsewhere via the comments section of this posting.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Higher Education Opportunities for Caroline

Caroline is very concerned about continuing her education. She has recently graduated from high school in Jinja (a big accomplishment in itself for young women in Uganda) and she is very eager to pursue a higher education in one of the technology professions. Caroline and I communicate about this a lot in our emails over the past months, and she and I are working together to help prepare her for that next big step in life.

Today I was browsing Yvette's Inside Somaliland weblog and spotted Yvette's June 26th posting re: The University of Hargeisa (Somaliland) and their new online courses offered in conjunction with the African Virtual University. I mean these people have been able to put together 3 undergraduate certificate programs in technology using modern "e-learning & blended learning" technology platforms and education methodologies in a country that the U.N. and G8 nations say does not even exist! Check out their AVU Online Learning Center and see what USD $360.00 can get you in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

The African Virtual University (AVU)is an outstanding "e-learning" initiative based out of Nairobi, Kenya and works closely together with leading universities around the world i.e. Georgetown University and Harvard University (U.S.A.), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology - RMIT (Australia), Kenyatta University (Kenya), Massachusetts Institute of Technology - MIT (U.S.A.), and top education institutions worldwide. Here is their link to the AVU Computer Science Program, which should be of special interest to Caroline and other aspiring IT professionals in Jinja and throughout Uganda.

I've been following news about The African Virtual University for the past year or so, but they started out back in 1997 as a special project of The World Bank Group. Since 2003 the AVU has been really "coming up to speed" with their distance-education technology infrastructure, degree and certificate curriculum and programs, physical learning centers (35 centers in Africa), professional educational staff and leading university partner roster.

I think it would be smart for Caroline and her friends who wish to continue their education beyond high school to research the African Virtual University carefully as a viable alternative to attending college "on campus" in Uganda or abroad. The AVU could also be a good introductory experience for the first couple of semesters or years, and then one could transfer on to their partner institutions to finish their degree program.

Uganda does have good universities such as Makarere University in the capitol city Kampala and Uganda Martyrs University at Nkozi. There is also Kyambogo University (formerly Uganda Polytechnic) located just outside the capitol on the Kampala-Jinja main road. The latter has formed a cooperation with the USAID DOTCOM, DOT-EDU Alliance which you can read about here at Connect-ED. It should be noted here that all of the above institutions offer some kind of distance education programs. It would be interesting to hear from students or graduates of those online-learning programs.

However, getting a seat to study at one of these institutions and being able to pay the fees and costs-of-living expenses is problematic if not downright impossible for Caroline and many other aspiring college students in Uganda. These problems of course are relevant to students throughout Africa and the rest of the developing world. I read an article today that the Republic of South Africa has recently setup a free "virtual university" for its citizens to help alleviate severe shortages of college educated and trained young people.

I hope to get more information soon from the young people in Jinja about what kinds of problems they face in continuing their education in their home country. I have tried to encourage them to create their own weblogs on Blogger.com for example, so that we may hear from them in their own voices. It would also be interesting to hear from teachers in and around Jinja District, or parents, via a weblog. What do you think about that idea, Caroline?

You have to respect those determined people up in Somaliland though, 'cause they are not waiting around for anybody, they are building a viable nation as best they can without any multi-billion dollar support programs from the "International Community". I wonder how that will all turn out in the next few years, and whether they get the recognition and support they deserve from powerful nations and international organizations which can make it happen for them. In the meantime, we can keep following developments there via Yvette's Inside Somaliland weblog.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Monday's Smile

Monday's Smile - one of the prettiest smiles in all of Africa.
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

She has the most beautiful smile, it's Monday, so I've named this photo posting "Monday's Smile". Something to cheer up visitors and friends who are facing another long work week and are wondering "How am I going to make it to Friday??".

Well, there has been plenty going on here in Europe and down in Jinja since my last posting. Big breach of messaging security in Uganda which makes you ask the question,

"Should people in developing countries be left to the mercy of unscrupulous Internet café owners and shady Internet Service Providers?" Answer: "H--- No! Would you trust just any Internet café staff with your personal and confidential info online?!"

I'll fill you in on what that's all about in my future postings, after we finish our CSI (Crime Scene Investigation). For now, enjoy Monday's Smile, and see if she makes you smile as well. Naw, see, you can do it.

Dedicated to our new visitor "Doc" von Holten, one of the finest information technologists and engineers on the planet. Welcome to "Jewels in the Jungle", Doc!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Text color change

I changed the color of the text in my postings to RGB "White" from the previous color hexadecimal value "#cedfff" today as a test. This was done to attempt to improve the readability of the text for visitors with sight problems who had difficulties with the background color and text color being different shades of green for this blog template.

If the readability of the text in the postings continues to be a problem for you, please leave a comment on this posting and I will tweak the colors again until I get it right for as many visitors as possible. Color scheming and matching using code 'aint necessarily my thing, you know.

How's that far complying with some basic Web Accessability Standards!?

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Digital Diaspora Network - Africa - Afrishare

Digital Diaspora Network - Africa

Dear Caroline,

This is an example of the kind of projects we are focusing on and preparing for the youth of Jinja, for Uganda, and for neighboring countries. These kinds of things are possible when we have the right partners on the ground there. I hope that your research of Afrishare, the first Schoolweb Project in Ghana, and the Digital Diaspora Network is inspiring to you and your community leaders.

Afrishare, Schoolweb, and the DDN are not a dream, they are a reality! There is no reason they cannot be a reality in Jinja, too.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Focus and Concentration

Focus and Concentration
Photos by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

We've all been there, where we had to really concentrate hard on something important in class. It is clear to see that she is really into what she is doing with that pencil and paper. I hope that these young students can see clearly, as well. I haven't seen many eyeglasses on the schoolchildren in the photos I have reviewed so far.

Appreciation and Apologies

Hey, I finally got some time this week to do new postings to my blog. It's really funny that with all of the technology tools and gizmos I have at my disposal every day, this Jewels in the Jungle blog is on my mind much of the time___ "What are you gonna post next?", "Has anybody visited the blog today and left a comment?", "Are the young folks down in Jinja, Uganda enjoying this blog?", "Will it serve the purpose of why it was created in the first place, and especially be of use to our target audience around the world?". These are the kinds of questions going through my head all of the time.

So, about the appreciation thing. I do appreciate all of the communication and encouragement I have received via email and the blog comments. Thanks loads, it's like filling up on rocket fuel for me, really!

And, about the apology. I've been thinking about a STUPID statement I made in regards to the country of Somalia (see my "Good Blogs about Africa" posting). I made a comment in that posting that Somalia is a "hellhole". That was very stupid and insensitive of me, and I am sorry I said something like that. Strangely enough, nobody has contacted me and demanded that I correct that statement, or apologize.

Perhaps many people feel that Somalia is some kind of scenario from Hell, and that the situation there is hopeless. But if that is so, then we all have contributed in our silence and apathy to the demise of Somalia and of its peoples. One thing Yvette's weblog Inside Somaliland is teaching me, that there is still hope for these people on the Horn of Africa, in Somaliland and Somalia, and the rest of the region as well.

If more of us around the world don't get involved in helping these people out, whether it be shoulder-to-shoulder like Yvette does or by demanding that our governments and business leaders around the world get it together in regards to providing serious support and assistance to these people...or else!...or else it's curtains for everybody!

Well, anyway, that is my apology to the people of Somalia, Somaliland, and Yvette. I hope that it is accepted, 'cause I am really sorry.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

More cool stuff for Caroline and Friends

I was trying to catch up on reading my many email newsletters today and came across the following information I wanted to share especially with Caroline in Jinja and her friends. This is also important reading material for anyone visiting this weblog who is interested in gender issues and the empowerment of women in developing and developed societies. I sure the heck am interested!

UNIFEM at the World Summit on the Information Society 2003
UNIFEM’s Work in ICT (Information and Communication Technologies)*
*Note: Be sure to read the article on the launch of the Digital Diaspora Initiative at Kampala, Uganda in May 2003. I wonder what benefits that high-level project has brought to the people in Uganda and the African Great Lakes region over the past 12 months? Does anybody have update information?

WLP – Womens Learning Partnership

View the “Profiles” and “Projects” section of this website for brief profiles of outstanding women leaders in developing nations worldwide, and how to contact them. I looked for your “role model” on their list and she wasn’t there, yet. However, I have read some of her reports and presentations online and she certainly should be on this list. As a matter of fact there were no women leaders from Uganda on this list, so someone should contact this organization and bring them up to date!


This site seems to be very hot with young people around the world interested in all kinds of things, and I believe they have a Uganda section for partners and members in your country. Is there any news about this organization in Jinja? Someone should contact to these folks from your community.

That’s it for today. It’s Weekend Time!


Friday, June 04, 2004

Cool Tech Weblog for Caroline and Friends

This posting is for Caroline and her "aspiring technology professional and entrepreneur" friends in Jinja. Here is a message I sent to a very clever young man working with technology issues in West Africa, namely Nigeria. Check out his weblog Seun Osewa's Weblog. I think it is both educational and sometimes very funny, and may give you some ideas on how you would build and maintain weblogs from Jinja. Do check it out, and you'll be hearing from me again next week with more pictures and less talk.

I wrote to Seun:

Hi Seun,

I just discovered your blog on the BlogAfrica weblog directory and I think it is pretty cool, especially from a "technology on a shoetring budget" point of view.

I am presently publishing a weblog named "Jewels in the Jungle" which is focused on young people down in Jinja, Uganda. So far it's getting a nice response from people there.

I would like to build a link on one of my future postings to your weblog, and am asking permission from you to do that first. Aint that nice of me?

Secondly, the youth in the community in Jinja could really benefit from your excellent advice on technology issues, malaria, and dating. So I want to point them to you as an experienced blogger and "armchair entrepreneur" working in Africa. Thought I'd warn you first so you'll be up to it in case anybody blogs ya.

Keep up the very good work, and I hope that you get better with the malaria problem ASAP.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Showing Appreciation for Lunch

And boy, it sure looks like he loves it!
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda February 2003

Preparing Lunch

Woman preparing a fresh fruit snack.
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda February 2003

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I had a Great Day Today !!

Jeez I had such a great day today!!

I mean, people out there in the world are actually following this blog!?! Wow! Yvette Lopez of the Inside Somaliland weblog (see earlier postings) and I exchanged communications in the past few days, and she really likes the photos.

Caroline, a young high school graduate who lives in Jinja and her friends have been following the blog, and she thinks it's cool and is giving me all kinds of feedback. O.K., she did comment that the homepage background color is a bit Yucky! and hard for her to read, but I promised to fix that as soon as I can find the right line of code in this blog template with all of these new XHTML tags and CSS tags and RSS calls.

Caroline is getting prepared to continue her higher education as she is very interested in ICT (Information and Communications Technology). She is really an excellent young lady giving me deep insights into the minds of young people in Uganda. It is a precious communication experience, and I am working hard to get her the help she wants and needs to study further. I explained to Caroline that many concerned citizens around the world are focused on the problems of gender discrimination, particularly in the education of girls and women in certain countries. Finishing high school is great, and I am confident she would do well at university or a professional training institute.

She has a really cool role model in Uganda, but that is rather hush-hush between Caroline and me you know since the present government is still working on Democracy and Freedom of Speech for all of its citizens. Hey, I've got confidence they'll get it together, and quick.

Anyway, I am so floored by it all, I've decided to open up the comments area of all postings to anybody who would like to comment vs. the restricted method I've used up to now. If I don't like what you write, I'll just cut it out of the blog, just like the news media does all over the world. WYSINWIAG (What You See Is Not What I Always Get).

Oh, I think someone is writing a comment just now___"Dear BlackEagle, I think your Blog st___ks...". SECURITY! Someone get Security!!

Thanks Caroline and Yvette, you've just made my whole week!

...and for dear Caroline in Jinja.

...as a group of young fans look on__sort of.
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda February 2003

For Yvette in Somaliland...

A performer working up a sweat at festival
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda February 2003