Our team entered the final week of our project looking forward to hosting 60 students over four nights at the Hanoi Computer Training Centre [HCTC] for instruction on the use of the Intel-powered classmate PCs. The group of students came from the Ha Dong orphanage in Hanoi. This orphanage caters for seventy students and runs with a staff of just four teachers. So it was with a sense of anticipation that we welcomed out first group of students on Monday night.
As I wrote in a previous blog the HCTC has only recently been built so this was the first use of the building as a training centre. For Orphan Impact director, Tad Kincaid, this was the moment he had waited years to experience. You could see the glow of satisfaction on his face during that first night of training. We were able to teach the students over 4 nights after they had finished school for the day. We had two groups of twenty students who were able to benefit from the programme. So each group received two nights of training. As an added benefit a meal was provided for them each night on arrival at HCTC. This was much appreciated by the students. As we had witnessed at Vinh Phuc orphanage the students were really eager to learn about the PCs and proved to be really fast learners. The students ranged in age from age 8 to 17.Because of the different experience level we split the children into two groups to take full advantage of the learning opportunity. The training centre worked out really well, despite the fact we lost power on one of the days! All part of the rolling power outages in Hanoi!
At the end of the sessions the teacher and students were really grateful for the experience. The orphanage director contacted HCTC to say how well organised the teaching was and how he looked forward to sending more students in the coming months. Last time I wrote I mentioned that we hoped to visit Quang Ninh orphanage to complete some teaching there. You may remember that one third of the students in this orphanage are hearing impaired. However we were all very disappointed, particularly Nancy who was looking forward to the challenge of teaching through sign language, when the Orphanage rang and cancelled our visit. Instead we completed some extra IT training with Tad and his team.
Our team also took the opportunity to visit an orphanage run by Buddhist monks called the Pagoda orphanage. Here we saw children who had been abandoned at the orphanage gates. We saw one two year old girl who had been left at the orphanage just the previous day. The living conditions were far below anything we would tolerate in the western world. Such was the harsh reality of coming face to face with these conditions that everyone was silent, lost in their own thoughts, when we left the orphanage.
Tad Kincaid said that the work that the Intel team had completed has meant the students have become a lot more confident about working with computers and using them to open up a new world of learning. With the work of their teachers reaching learning targets set by Orphan Impact he feels this learning will continue. He said he feels more confident solving PC issues that would have previously required IT support to resolve. The programme at Orphan Impact is now ready to be rolled out to eight other orphanages and achieve the goal of reaching 1200 children by year end.
So our project has ended. Our work is done and the whole team really feels that we have made a difference to the orphanages we have visited and the students we have met. The impact of this project on the team has been such that I feel each one of us will continue to support Orphan Impact and its work for some time to come.
Brian Daly & IESC Team Halong