Monday morning we started out with Sasa taking us to Mubrak’s (one of the community leaders) house for breakfast at 8am. He and his wife brought out regular bread, cheese, and another bread which reminded me of a bigger version of the Indian paratha. We also had almonds and milk-coffee. Incredibly delicious.
We then when to a stall looking for a 3G USB sticks to connect to the internet. The first stall didn’t have any but had wifi that we could use so of course we stood around the street for 30 minutes checking email on our phones and trying to figure out why Randy’s unlocked phone was not accepting the SIM card he bought yesterday. The second stall had a 3G USB stick for 200 DH (~$25USD) which included a SIM card with unlimited data good for 30 days. We opted to get one and share for use in the hotel at night. Tears of joy.
Since we had some extra time before the computers arrived in Ouled Moussa, we stopped by the boarding school in Ouaouizegth to see the computer room and learned that though there was electricity in the designated computer/tutoring room, there was only one outlet by the light switch at the front of the room. This wouldn’t work for the 8 laptops + 1 Mac Mini we had brought for this lab. We decided to speak with the president of the organization that runs the boarding school that night about getting outlets installed by Wednesday. We also wanted to discuss how the laptops would be stationed / housed and where the Mac Mini would be located.
We then proceeded to the Ouled Moussa Dar Chabab- this is the area where Jake is currently serving in the Peace Corps. We took a 40 minute taxi ride into town and got a good look of the room. Dar Chababs are youth centers sponsored by the Moroccan Education Ministry funded by the government and setup all throughout Morocco as a place kids can come and learn and play in a safe environment outside of school hours. Students are usually at the Dar Chabab between 10am-12pm and 4-8pm.
The computers hadn’t arrived yet, so we discussed room and table layout. We opted to go with 4 hexagonal tables with 2 computers each for the students and 1 L-shared area for the teach which would house the projector and the Mac Mini. After the desktops arrived, we unboxed, setup, and tested all the computers. We also set up the Mac Mini and an additional laptop for a total of 9 computers in the classroom.
For lunch, we went to the local women’s cooperative. The goal of the women’s coop is to provide a way for women to learn about business and use their skills to support their families. They package spices, make beautiful crochet pieces, sew cotton bags for people to use instead of plastic, cater food, and embroider. The women are very eager to start a web site to sell their products :-).
For lunch, they roasted us three large chickens with vegetables garnished with olives, spices and lemons and presented on a large round platter. We used bread to pinch and tear the chicken and ate with our hands. We had an assortment of cookies for dessert. One of the women at the coop is Jake’s host mom and was so happy to have us there. They expressed thanks for the computers many times. Another Peace Corps volunteer, who is also named Jake (he goes by Jacques or Jake 2), joined us to help for the next day and a half. He serves near Azilal about 2 hours away from Ouaouizegth.
After lunch, we installed the custom Ubermix + Educational apps distribution that Randy had prepared on all of the computers. Fareeda placed stickers on the keyboard for the Mac Mini to “convert” it to a French/Arabic keyboard. Everything went amazingly smooth and the installs were completed in less than 2 hours. We tested the OS and Fareeda began installing bookmarks to the Tux Games on the desktops. Randy, Fareeda, and Chase along with Jake then headed to Beni Mellal to get longer ethernet cables and voltage converters. I went to Jake’s apartment to send an update to the KOC team on our arrival and status.
After they got back, the kids were waiting and eager to try out the computers. Jake taught a 30 minute class with Randy driving the Mac Mini / projector. The kids are like moths to a flame when it comes to the computers. They eagerly click around looking for the cool game or app to try. Seeing their excitement and joy makes the trip and effort involved in doing a trip worth it.
By this time, it was about 8pm. We took a taxi back to Ouaouizegth and went to the boarding school president’s (Omar’s) house. We discussed installation of the outlets, how the laptops would be secured and our schedule for Wednesday and Thursday. We of course had a a wonderful meal – a big plate of couscous with vegetables and meat. We learned how to make couscous balls and eat with our hands from the center platter. We went back to the hotel afterwards made plans for the next day – networking at Ouled Moussa and teaching the kids some more – and for much needed rest.