How exciting it was to see our special friends typing their names for the first time in blank documents on Mkhombokati’s new computers. On Wednesday and Friday of this week, Brandon and Mkhaleko brought the fully charged laptops into the Mkhombokati multipurpose room, and began teaching the kids on our 8 learning stations. The idea for lesson 1 was simply to have the kids log-in with the laptop user name & password (It’s “GraceandPeace” by the way). After about 20 minutes of teaching about home row, and multiple attempts at “shift + G”, we adjusted the plan slightly.
“This part is the screen; this part is the keyboard; this is the mouse (it’s not an animal!)”. Of course, some of the kids have seen and used a computer before, but others had not—it was especially exciting to see these kids’ faces light up when they clicked open a word document for the first time, maximized a window, or typed their name on their own. With the 8 laptops, Mkhaleko cycled through an introductory computer lesson with about 50 of the kids over the 2 days we had the computers at the care point. And the most exciting part about what we accomplished in these lessons is that we’ve barely scratched the surface with what can be taught moving forward. Praise God! The team also purchased RACHEL devices (essentially little boxes with several gigs of cached internet pages that can be used without an internet connection), loaded with educational content – Khan Academy videos on about every topic under the sun, classic novels and short stories (including picture books!), Wikipedia articles, Medscape, etc.
Melinda shared that even some of the employed Swazi nationals she knows struggle to keep up with work demands due to lack of early computer education. Simple exposure to basic skills like typing and operating computers will be helpful in our tech-reliant world. Through these computers and Mkhaleko’s training, God is paving amazing new paths of opportunity for our special friends at Mkhombokati.
-Eric & Emily Bloomquist