Many thanks to Nicholas Laughlin from Trinidad and Tobago and Joan Razafimaharo from Montreal, Canada for leaving comments on the last batch of featured Rising Voices posts. I hope that more of you will leave comments of encouragement in this week’s collection of four posts. If, for some reason, you need to be convinced that it is good to get to know people unlike yourself, check out Ethan’s post “Homophily, serendipity, xenophobia” and Andrew Golis’ “Homophily, xenophilia and empathy.”
Let’s start in Medellín, Colombia where Juliana Rincón has translated a post by Gabriel Jaime Venegas, a librarian and the coordinator of the La Loma-based Convergentes group of HiperBarrio. ConVerGentes was recently selected as an example of how the internet can be used to form a stronger sense of offline local community – and posts like this one reveal why. Using a simple projector and BBQ, the ConVerGentes group gathered last Saturday to watch the movie Freedom Writers, eat some good food, and spend some quality offline time together. Venegas also notes that they have recently “started working as construction workers.” After making a short internet documentary about the poor housing conditions endured by one of their community’s members, they decided to help build him a new house. You can watch a sub-titled video about Suso here. Photographs and videos of the construction process of Suso’s new house will be posted soon.
The group of bloggers in Medellín aren’t the only ones using their blogs to help out members of their community. In the small town of Majunga, Madagascar, a young journalism student recently missed her bus stop and only realized her mistake once she reached city hall. On her way back to the town’s market she came across Philomène Georgine, a single mother with twin children. While one of the twins is perfectly healthy, the other has an abnormal growth that constantly attracts the stares of onlookers, but little sympathy from neighbors and family. That young journalism student is FOKO blogger Diana Chamia and she is now organizing a global and local, online and offline, campaign to help the Georgine family.
And now a special treat from Shahida Islam Mony, who takes computer classes at the Nari Jibon center in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We have heard Mony’s beautiful voice once before. In this video, edited by Taslima Akter, she sings a Bengali song in celebration of Pôhela Boishakh, the Bangla New Year. So far there are nine other videos on the Nari Jibon blog which show the bloggers singing and dancing to celebrate the day.
Discussions around the One Laptop Per Child project tend to be as intense and polarized as a national election. But few of the pundits who express their opinions about the project seem to read the direct observations of the students, parents, and teachers who are now using the laptops in Uruguay and select other regions around the world like Nigeria and Peru. In this translation of a post by a sixth grade teacher at the Canadá school in Uruguay, we are able to see a list of the weaknesses and strengths of the laptop in the classroom setting one month after its implementation. You can see pictures of students working with the laptops here.