I really should learn to look in the local paper more often. This morning I took Tabby to the local Christmas Fayre, having seen the sign for it in a car park last night. It consisted of a hot dog stand and this chap, who was advertising train rides for children’s parties or something. Needless to say, Tabby was slightly disappointed, and terrified of the train (because of the dog. She is wise and knows the truth about wolves in the living room).
Had I read the paper before hand, I’d have realised the majority of the Fayre was actually indoors, in the town hall, and that if we’d gone in the afternoon, she could have met Santa.
I’d also have noticed this story about a handsome young journalist from the area who got through to the finals of the Guardian International Development Competition (who, by the way, didn’t win, but did get published, which makes him happy). Wonder why they didn’t call me for a quote?
A long and difficult day travelling down to Shoreham in the rain was broken up by a bit of good news from Steve, the founder of LearnAsOne who I accompanied to Zambia back in May. Thanks to some fantastic work involving cake sales, sponsored walks and skydiving, amongst other stuff, he’s now just £130 £35 short of the hit the first major milestone in the fundraising for Simakakata Community School. Hopefully, before the week is out, he’ll have enough LearnAsOne now has enough cash to fund the first classroom of the new school complex. This is incredibly good news.
I’ve written at length about how important this school is, but here’s the recap: all the village leaders I met in Zambia said that given a limited amount of funds, they’d choose to build a school over anything else, including a health centre. With a good school, modern school building and teachers’ houses, they can attract quality staff who will stay and give the community children the very best chance they’ll get at escaping poverty in their adult lives. The ability to simply read and write affects their work opportunities, obviously, but even for those who stay in the rural area being able to understand the instructions on a bag of fertiliser can increase family income three or four fold.
These people are poor, some of the kids – like Irene above – walk 14km a day barefoot to get to school. Their teachers are the most insipiring people I’ve ever met – most of them work for free and two of them, Beatrice and Loveness, live in a small hut with no door in the school grounds. There’s no running water or power at the current school house, hell, there aren’t even any windows.
From his office, headmaster George runs a health outreach program that assists everyone in the hugely spread out community – crucially this includes the many people who are infected with HIV/AIDS.
The building is dark and gloomy inside, but once it’s full of children and teachers in many ways it’s no different from the many primary schools I’ve been visiting recently because my own daughter is due to start her formal education next year.
They’re stuck in a classic Catch 22 at the moment – they need government funding to buy the materials to deliver the quality of education (whatever the weather) these kids deserve, but until they have a proper, purpose built classroom they can’t get the support they need.
Steve’s doing an incredible job getting people involved in fundraising in the UK – I only wish I could go back to Zambia with him when next visits George and his team to see the difference the money has made.
Desperate to entertain Tabby on yet another three hour drive to Brighton tomorrow, I decided to load some Charlie and Lola onto my Moblin powered Eee 901. The problem is that as ace as Moblin is, with its sub-20 second boot time, because it’s an Intel sponsored project all the common media codecs for MP3, DivX and so on aren’t in the repositories – unlike Ubuntu or Fedora, there’s no easy way to install them.
This guide helped – and also highlighted how painful it is to alt-tab between running apps in Moblin when cutting and pasting to the terminal. I say it helped, there’s a couple of typos (specifically in the lines “sed -i ‘s/10/11/’ /etc/yum.repos.d/fedora” and “yum install gstreamer-ffmpeg”) but sadly, being a Fedora newb, I’m not entirely sure how. Following the guide threw up an error when trying to install gstreamer-ffmpeg, but I also installed SMPlayer as per the advice in the comments. I don’t know if SMPlayer would work without the bits of the walkthrough that did, if I’m honest, but I’ll try and find time to uninstall everything and find out.
Still, many thanks to the author for making tomorrow’s journey a bit more bearable for the three-year-old.
I’ve never been a massive fan of GPS devices – somewhat snobbishly preferring to read paper based maps, for some inexplicable reason. I have to admit, though, that after reviewing CoPilot for the iPhone I’m a complete convert. You have to use a cigarette lighter dock or it kills the battery life, and I’ve had a few random rerouting instructions when it loses the satellite signal, but it is very clever. I wouldn’t normally rave about a single app on here, even though updates have been slow lately because all my spare time is going into house hunting, but today’s update includes the ability to control the iPod player from within the CoPilot interface, so you don’t have to close it down to change tracks or pause playing music. That’s awesome because when you’re approaching a destination you don’t know, you don’t want to switch out of the GPS app to silence the radio, or you get lost.
It’s been a massive help to us while looking for houses in strange places over the last month, and for only £26 is still a third of the price of its competitors. Bargainous.