Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ten Years Ago Today

Janice Lathen with students at Banjika Secondary School

A personal note from Janice Lathen, Founding Director of Powering Potential:

Exactly ten years ago today, I stood in front of a classroom of students at the Banjika Secondary School in Karatu, Tanzania and said, “Jina langu ni Janice. Mimi ni mwalimu. Ninafundisha elimu ya kompyuta.” “My name is Janice. I am a teacher. I teach computer classes.” 

The students burst into excited applause and that expression of appreciation sparked a passionate desire in me. In that moment I decided to go home, raise money and buy 10 computers and return to spend a month teaching them how to use the computers. Powering Potential was born! Then I learned the school had no electricity.

How could I have imagined on March 9, 2006 that Powering Potential would become what it is? It is a humbling experience.

As I reflect on that day, I'm moved to tears when I think of all the people who are joining forces with me to bring educational resources, computer technology and solar power to students in rural Tanzania.

We started small, first one laptop, then five computers, and now there are 106 computers in 13 schools in three districts and we are about to bring our Pi-oneer program to an additional 56 schools. Students are getting college degrees and starting careers in technology.

Touched by Technology

Serious funders support us: first and foremost the Segal Family Foundation, also the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania, United Nations Women's Guild, Newman's Own Foundation, The International Foundation, IEEE Foundation, Collegiate Churches of New York, SanDisk Corporation, Raspberry Pi Foundation, TZ Rural Energy Agency, TZ Postal Bank, Serena Hotels, and hundreds of individuals.

The Tanzanian government including H.E. Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, former president of Tanzania, has expressed appreciation of our work. The Tanzanian Education Authority is considering a partnership with us. Powering Potential–Tanzania is being established which will be an independent organization led and funded by Tanzanians with additional funding and support from Powering Potential Inc. The torch is being passed.

Powering Potential's vision is: All students in Tanzania experiencing the joys of technology: efficient production, easy access to information, and communication with others.

Janice Lathen with students at Banjika Secondary School

And our mission: Use technology to enhance education and stimulate imagination of students in Tanzania while respecting and incorporating values of the local culture— especially cooperation over competition, community over the individual, modesty over pride, and spirituality over materiality. 

Hats off to all the people who are joining the effort to realize the vision and fulfill the mission! As a teacher at Banjika school said, "Before Janice came to our school, no one knew anything about the Computer. They did not know even what it looked like. It is amazing that now the kids are able to type something in the Computer and print with their own hands. These are great Changes." 

Be a part of these "great Changes." This month we begin implementing Phase 2 of our Computer Lab program at the Baray Secondary School and we still need $6,000 to complete the funding. Contribute what YOU CAN.

o o o 

Swahili is the language of Tanzania. The following African proverbs are another taste of that beautiful language:

Haba na haba, hajuza kibaba.
Little by little fills the measure.

Kila jambo na wakati wake.

There is an opportune time for everything.