Our UMass World Librarians club wants to raise $15,000 to help orphaned children, other refugees, and their teachers who live in a 50,000+ person refugee camp called Dzaleka in Malawi! Yes! Believe it or not, our club is working directly with the managers of this refugee camp to create a computer lab that will be strategically built adjacent to a library and an orphanage for maximum impact.
Are you intrigued to help? Read on.
Our program is a model co-founded between the ْUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) and ShiftIT in Malawi that provides open educational resources to schools and libraries in Malawi and Kenya. For this initiative, World Librarians partnered with the remarkable Sofie Roux and her social enterprise, Sparkly, and SmART. Sofie created the “BloomBox Learning Lab,” a state-of-the-art sustainable, bright, open-concept learning environment, created using repurposed shipping containers.
These boxes are free-standing, sustainable, off-grid spaces to enhance the infrastructure of high schools or other locations without access to electricity and technology. Each Lab is fully powered by solar panels, contains laptop computers and accompanying technology, such as keepods, and is enabled with wireless access to open access learning resources stored on the remote educational hotspot called “RACHEL” (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning), which is the server used by Bloombox users to access open educational materials sent by UMass students.
At its simplest, the World Librarian project pairs children’s and their teacher’s requests for resources with librarians who have access to the Internet and open-access materials. This happens through an innovative system that relies on both authentic social interactions and new technologies.
As noted above, we are actively and directly working with the managers of the refugee camp to build their Bloombox instance. We’ve already found the $70,000 to build the Bloombox and it is actively being fabricated, with a goal of it being operational in July 2023. What we don’t have is the “internals” for the computer lab. Therefore, in this campaign, we are raising $15,000 for the following to complete the project:
- 20 laptops and related computer peripherals, including keepods
- Funds for wire shelving, shade sails, rolling cart, rolling whiteboard/blackboard
- Funds for hiring someone locally to build stools and picnic tables.
- A “Smartbox” with wheels, which will securely store, surge-protect and charge the laptops in the Bloombox when they are not being used and can allow the easy transport of the laptops into the adjacent library for use.
All of our funds will go directly to the purchasing of the above and a UMass professor will personally deliver the laptops to the camp in June 2023. The remaining funds will be used to purchase the other materials and services in-country.