[Telecentres] Laptops For Ghana

Don Osborn dzo at bisharat.net
Fri Dec 1 16:32:34 GMT 2006

Hi Jennifer, Just a quick thought with relevance for projects like this (and
telecenter projects in general), and that is the importance of the "last
mile" of internationalization.

Internationalization ("i18n") of course is in major part the enabling of
computer systems to handle diverse languages. A lot of work has gone into
i18n, including the Unicode standard, and the design of systems to handle
it. Most of this is not apparent to computer users, or even project
designers, but gradually the newer systems (Windows, Linux, Mac) are built
with this in mind. Even older systems (such as the ubiquitous Windows98) can
handle diverse scripts in Unicode.

The "last mile" is just a way of making sure that the benefits of
internationalization are carried through to the systems distributed in
countries like Ghana. In practical terms this means first of all
installation of fonts with the alphabets or characters used in all languages
of the beneficiary community. In the case of Ghana, several languages use
extended Latin alphabets that are covered with such free "Unicode fonts." 

Such fonts permit display (and composition) of documents and web content in
these orthographies.

A next step in that last mile is fonts that include other alphabets,
especially if you're talking about schools and the potential to broaden
kids' horozons - Arabic, Ethiopic (another part of Africa, but SIL has a
free font), if possible CJK, and so on.

A further step, returning to the indigenous languages issue, is input:
keyboard layouts. This requires a little more effort but there are programs
that let one design keyboard layout options that users can use (switch into,
without nullifying basic QWERTY English layout for instance) to facilitate
typing with extended Latin (or non-Latin) alphabets.

Without such basic measures, the benefits of i18n do not accrue to local
communities. Donated computers do not have to be "English-only" and taking
them that last mile of i18n takes a minimum of effort and resources. Think
of it as a value-added thing if nothing else - by "activating" (in effect)
the i18n potential of systems distributed in the countries, there re a lot
of potential benefits that we might not readily think of or even be able to

Please contact me offline if it would be helpful to have some more
information on these steps.

Best of luck with your project and efforts! All the best...

Don Osborn
PanAfrican Localisation project

> -----Original Message-----
> From: telecentres-bounces at wsis-cs.org [mailto:telecentres-bounces at wsis-
> cs.org] On Behalf Of Jennifer Staple
> Sent: Sunday, November 19, 2006 2:51 AM
> To: telecentres at wsis-cs.org
> Subject: [Telecentres] Laptops For Ghana
> Hi all,
> Unite For Sight is seeking laptop donations for its programs and
> partners at Buduburam Refugee Camp and in Tamale, Ghana.  If you or a
> friend have a laptop that you could donate, please send an email to
> JStaple at uniteforsight.org  Unite For Sight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
> organization, and donations to Unite For Sight are tax deductible.
> _Buduburam Refugee Camp_
> Karrus Hayes is a refugee at Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana, where he
> works tirelessly every day to direct an elementary school that he
> founded at the refugee camp, and he also leads Unite For Sight's free
> eye care programs at the refugee camp. You can read Karrus's biography
> online http://uniteforsight.org/humanitarian_profile.php He is a
> special humanitarian
> We are seeking donated laptops for children to use at Karrus's school.
> Karrus says: "Laptops donated will be really useful to the school and
> the kids. The school has had a computer room, but no computer has ever
> entered there since we started."
> _Crystal Eye Clinic_
> A database system is being developed between the Unite For Sight
> screening site at Buduburam Refugee Camp and at Crystal Eye Clinic,
> which is located 1 hour from the refugee camp and provides eye care to
> the refugees.  Laptops are needed for both the screening site at
> Buduburam and for the ophthalmologists and staff at Crystal Eye Clinic
> _Eye Clinic of Tamale Teaching Hospital_ In Tamale, Ghana, Unite For
> Sight's partner ophthalmologist, Dr. Wanye, is the only eye doctor for
> 2 million people in the entire region. Prior to our partnership, Dr.
> Wanye often went months without providing a single cataract surgery
> because the community members could not afford the $35 cost of surgery.
> Unite For Sight volunteers now work with him to assist with screening
> outreach programs, and Unite For Sight funds the cataract surgeries for
> the patients so that no one will remain blind due to lack of funds.
> Laptops are needed at Eye Clinic of Tamale Teaching Hospital for
> patient data recording and other electronic needs.
> Sincerely,
> Jennifer Staple
> Founder, President and CEO
> Unite For Sight
> www.uniteforsight.org
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