Sunday, August 9, 2009


Like all other teams, we did not want our project to fizzle away after we leave and so from the start, sustainability was an important consideration. Here are a few aspects of just that

1. Local Partnerships: Since Sahn Malen's affairs are overseen by a local chief, we met with him, introduced him to the project and elicited his help in things like security of the XOs(his office will have a detailed list of the children who have the XOs and their serial numbers in case of theft etc.).

The chief also held a village-wide meeting where we introduced ourselves and the project to the community and talked about aspects that we felt were important(child ownership of the laptops, security of the XOs and the children, importance of the local community's support to the project and the fact that this was the first village in Sierra Leone to have a deployment like this and hence its importance as a pilot project).

We also had a meeting with the parents of the children who received the XOs. This we conveniently did on the day when the parents were in town for collecting their childrens' report cards.

Furthermore, it was important to get the local school staff on board. We had frequent meetings with both the schools' principals and the class 5 teachers to update them on the project.

2. Hedging the bets: I've already described the structure of the program in a previous post, whereby we will have local adult leads who will be responsible for different aspects of the program. But to make sure that the program doesn't fall apart in case one member moves away or is unable to continue with the project for whatever reason, we worked with and trained three local volunteers as well who would take over in case of a contingency.

3. Finances: The only running costs we will incur after we have left will be the stipends for the local adult leads, scholarships for the peer tutors, internet connectivity charges and any spare parts that we send to Sahn Malen. We planned our current finances to provide for one year(until June 2010). For beyond this, we will fundraise once we get back to the US. The funds will be dispensed to the relevant individuals by our local partner, Mr. Paul Sengeh, Project Evaluation Officer at UNICEF, Sierra Leone.

4. Accountability: The peer tutors will keep receiving their scholarship and the adult leads their stipend only if they show continuous commitment to the project and deliver what is expected of them. To make this clear, the adult leads signed a Memorandum of Understanding with us, which explicitly listed their responsibilties and ours for the coming year.

5. Communication: To ensure accountability however, we need and plan to remain in constant touch with the adult leads, the peer tutors and our local partners in the village(Chief Kebbie and Elder Sengeh) to ensure that everything is running smoothly. In addition to the monthly telephonic conversations, we are also in touch with the adult leads over email.

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