Friday, June 25, 2010

Free Software Conference

Being a firm believer in free, open source software because of its benefits to people on low incomes, Rupert was greatly encouraged and excited to see that the government of Paraguay was going to be hosting, in April, its first International Conference on Free Software. The aim of the conference was to give a boost to migration to Free Software in the whole of Latin America, particularly in Paraguay. (Photo below)

Though all of the conference was interesting, what most inspired Rup, and it would seem the Paraguayan government also, was a talk by an Indian called V. Sasi Kumar, who spoke about his experience implementing free software in schools in Kerala in India. (Photo below) Representatives from the Ministry of Education in Paraguay are going to visit the programme in India to see what they can learn from their experience. At the moment no state schools have any computers for students so this could be a big step forward for education in Paraguay.

Rup has written and published some user guides, in Spanish, for the free software package OpenOffice. These have proved very popular with people all over the Spanish speaking world. Who knows? They may even prove useful in Paraguay! (Photo of Rup with guides below)

Toy Library helping local school

State schools in Paraguay, due to the limited government funding they are given, have very few educational rescources, games and toys. (Photo of classroom below) Teachers need to make or buy their own resources which is not easy on their low wage.

For this reason we decided to offer the Toy Library to the children from the local school in Quyquyho. The teachers are delighted but it is nothing compared to the reaction of the children who are so excited about coming they count the days to their next visit! (Photos below) Around 100 children, from Reception to Year 3, are visiting every month. One teacher commented: "Children learn best through play but I have nothing like this in my classroom. I try to make my own resources but it is not enough. This is just what my children need. We can't wait to come on Fridays!"

The Feeding Programme in Quyquyho

Osvaldo and Maria Luisa opened the Feeding Programme in Quyquyho 5 years ago, well before the Children's Home was started. It caters, from Monday to Friday, February to December, for around 100 of the village's poorest, most undernourished children. In order to help these children receive an education, they are also provided with school books, materials and uniforms. Health problems are attended to as much as possible with courses of treatment given to get rid of their parasites.

In February this year the Feeding Programme, or "Comedor" as it is called here, was opened with 130 children registering. (Photos below) They were also provided with all they needed to continue their studies in the local school.

Osvaldo recently commented: "Since the opening of the “Comedor” the village of Quyquyhó no longer sees poor children selling sweets or begging and neither are there malnourished, dirty children wandering the streets. The 100 children who attend the “Comedor” have learnt to be honest, they no longer steal from one another, and they have learnt to respect both themselves and each other."
Inspiring stuff!