Adoumkidjin is working to fight discrimination and abuse of children with mental disabilities in Chad. He has created the first ever center specifically for children with mental disabilities in Chad called the Center for Special Education for Children (CESER), where they can get education and vocational skills. He also uses sms broadcasting for sensitisation and training of trainers.
Change Leader, Peter Kwarteng improves neonatal care in Ghana
Mobile phones provide a lifeline for neonatal and maternal health
Established in 2013, the Neonatal Network Support System, in Ghana, uses donated cell phones to create a support network for health providers in rural areas. Midwives can call trained experts during a baby’s delivery for real-time support, or any time to consult on treatment issues. The NNSS also educates the community through parent classes, a radio program, and education sessions via Facebook.
Neonatal care is a critical issue in Ghana. According to the World Health Organization, more than two-third of neonatal and maternal deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where healthcare “coverage is low, progress is slow, and inequity is high.” And it is not only a question of access to equipment and drugs, but of skilled personnel. In these regions, according to the WHO, “only about a third of women deliver in the presence of a skilled attendant.” According to a recent study in 2012, Ghana has “major gaps in [Essential Newborn Care] equipment, drugs, staff, practices and skills.”
Click here to learn more about neonatal mortality.
Leveraging technology to save lives
The U.N.’s Millenial Development Goal #4 is to “reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.” Ghana is woefully far from reaching this goal, largely due to lack of quality neonatal care. The WHO has acknowledged that “achieving universal coverage of skilled care will take decades” (emphasis added). In the absence of strong infrastructure, community solutions are an essential way to stem the tide of neonatal deaths in the short-term.
Peter K. champions community and grassroots solutions. In his blog from July 2014, he writes:
We want to challenge the ordinary Ghanaian that anyone at all can be a champion for newborn health… There are many reading this story right now who will simply sympathize and start asking what the Government, Health Ministry and other international NGOs are doing about this menace. Truth is they are indeed doing their part. But nothing can be more powerful than the everyday man or woman becoming the champion of newborn health!
The Neonatal Network Support System
“Every newborn deserves the right to live” – Peter Kwarteng, Founder, NNSS
In the absence of adequate facilities and specialized care throughout Ghana, Peter’s team leverages technology to network healthcare professionals and save lives.
Technology saves lives:
The leading causes of neonatal mortality in Ghana are asphyxia (lack of oxygen) and sepsis (infection), both complicated by prematurity. It has been estimated that only 12.5% of babies born in Ghana have access to resuscitation, one of the most basic interventions.
According to Peter, “the task of saving newborn lives still remains tremendous with countless babies dying from birth asphyxia, prematurity and neonatal sepsis. Many more are daily being added to a multitude that face a lifetime saddled with intellectual disability and other physical impairments.”
Where to start with such a tremendous issue? The NNSS educates the community and empowers individuals to be ambassadors for neonatal health. Through its radio program and parent classes, NNSS teaches about neonatal health risks such as prematurity, jaundice, and post-circumcision bleeding. NNSS also has a neonatal resuscitation program, and supports treatment efforts by collecting and distributing medication and equipment donations.
Peter’s blog is an upbeat and uplifting step-by-step report of NNSS’s growth. He openly discusses his struggles as a social entrepreneur, including funding, financial sustainability, and scalability challenges. He also addresses political and cultural hurdles, yet his eternal optimism shines through. This Change Leader is already making a huge impact, and as he says, it’s not just about the total number of lives saved. For every parent who loses a child, that is a 100% loss; every life saved is an enormous win.
Click here to read more about NNSS’s programs.
“Even with a weak health system, measurable mortality reduction can be achieved—by starting with outreach and at the family-community level.” – World Health Organization report 2005
What else is being done? Learn about the WHO’s Ghana neonatal quality improvement initiative.
Dr. Didier Lalaye: An SMS lifeline
Bilharzia or schistosomiasis is a disease caused by small parasites. The disease is Chad’s second largest public health concern. Dr. Didier works at the Women and Children’s Hospital in the capital N’djamena as well as in remote villages with Reach for Change. It was during this community work that he started to notice an upsurge in Bilharzia.
“More and more people were becoming infected, and patients were coming in with advanced stages of the infection, making them more prone to serious health ailments such as infertility and bladder cancer,” Dr. Lalaye explains.
He dug deeper, and discovered that one of the main reasons for this increase in infections was the lack of early testing options available in remote parts of the country. Working with a team of dedicated health and community development professionals from the organization, Dr. Lalaye launched a pilot project in the south of Chad to bring affordable and convenient testing and treatment to Chad’s most vulnerable people.
Teams of technicians carry out door-to-door testing for the infection. Results are then sent to patients and families via SMS. Where necessary, medical treatment regimens are also communicated via text message and medicines are delivered straight to homes.
“We make it easier for people to know their status and treat Bilharzia before complications occur,” he says.
Both of these organizations work to increase digital literacy and encourage young women to consider careers in Information Technology (ICT), using workshops and mentoring to spark their interest in the field.
Teaching Girls to Code
One of the skills taught by both organizations is coding, or being able to create websites and apps. There is an international push for kids to code. Why is this skill so important? In an increasingly digital world, those who can design the digital environment have creative control. Girls who can code will be writing the future. With this skill, they will stand to have great influence as social innovators.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, digital jobs are growing at 22%, far faster than other sectors. Internationally, there is a push to bring women into the field: the organization Girls in ICT (link: http://girlsinict.org) encourages young women to consider careers in tech. Our Change Leaders, Carolyne Ekyarisiima and Regina Agyare, are working to ensure that women in Tanzania and Ghana are included in this economic boom. Apps & Girls offers workshops, hackathons, bootcamps, and competitions aimed at girls ages 10 to 18. It has also reached out to adults through its course, Teknomama (http://www.appsandgirls.com/?p=33), teaching digital literacy to women.Carolyne Ekyarisiima was inspired to start Apps & Girls in 2012 because only 17% of her university students in ICT were women. After participating in her program, 90% of the girls have requested additional workshops and expressed a desire to continue learning these skills. And the benefits go far beyond skills: Student Winnie Godlove Msamba reports “sharing ideas with other girls has given me strength to dream bigger.”
Tech Needs Girls uses workshops and mentoring to empower young girls, particularly those from slum areas.
Soronko Solutions believes in a world where all children are able to create technology which enables them to reach their full potential. They are developing an interactive and practical Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics curricula which will develop rural children into critical thinkers ,problem solvers, help them fight poverty and develop their communities.
To ensure that girls are not left behind, there is mentorship program which teaches disadvantaged girls to lead, innovate and to create technology that will shape the future.
The impact from these programs has implications for the girls and their communities on a personal and economic level.
Our Change Leaders are Narrowing the Digital Divide by exposing kids to technology in Ghana and Tanzania.
The Digital Divide
Even though Internet use in Africa has grown over 5,000% since the year 2000, more than seven times as fast as the average rate, only 7% of the population currently has access to the Internet. Mobile phone penetration is much higher, at 72%, but only 18% of phones are smart phones, according to Internet World Stats.
The “digital divide” refers to the gap in access to Information and Communications Technologies and media between developed and developing nations, or between different social groups. This gap refers not only to Internet access, but also to radios, computers, TV and mobile phones. Even as access to technology grows globally, the divide in knowledge and skills limits developing countries’ ability to compete in global markets.
IT4Teens, in Ghana, and Majengo Kids & Youth Technology School, in Tanzania, were both started in May 2013 to overcome this divide by educating children and increasing the digital skill set of the next generation.
According to the World Economic Forum, the “benefits of ICT can only be fully derived when a country implements a holistic strategy aimed at creating conditions for skills, innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish alongside modern infrastructure.” The WEF ranked Ghana 96th and Tanzania 125th on the Networked Readiness Index, along with other sub-Saharan African nations that “lag behind” in technological access and infrastructure. Two key metrics used by the WEF are affordability and skills, both of which our Change Leaders are working to promote.
Read more about the Digital Divide and groups that are working to overcome it: http://www.internetworldstats.com/links10.htm
IT4Teens Vision: Kids will create, not just consume, technology.
IT4Teens’ Core Values: Equal Opportunity, Creativity, and Stewardship.
IT4Teens educates kids and young adults, ages 8 to 40, on topics ranging from introduction to computers to hardware and networking, software and mobile application development, and graphic and web design. Notably, the classes are completely free of charge, as founders Erasmus Ackon and Marian Ewurama Wiredu made affordability and “equal opportunity” a core value of the organization.
Young people develop their knowledge through mentorship from adults, gaining a skill set and enhanced confidence. IT4Teens provides a safe and nurturing environment, a sense of community, and healthy competition. Contests and events such as the “Hour of Code” encourage students to showcase their skills and stay actively involved, through design of competition flyers or posting their own videos to the group’s YouTube channel.
Progress & Achievements:
Majengo Kids & Youth Vision: Rural ICT centers across Tanzania.
At Majengo Kids & Youth Technology Center Digital technology enhances innovation and competitiveness. Access increases social inclusion and equality, and economic development.
The Majengo Kids & Youth Technology School is part of Moshi Information Technology school, both founded by Thadei Msumanje. According to Research ICT Africa, Tanzania has one of the lowest rates of penetration of Internet users. This is especially true in rural areas, where approximately 70% of the population resides.
The Majengo school focuses on kindergarten-age children, exposing them to basic computer skills and age-appropriate games. They also work with older youth, teaching entrepreneurship, secretarial computer classes, and providing business training. The emphasis on skills and training, rather than just access, is crucial in order to empower the youth and enhance the global competitiveness of these countries.
Progress & Achievements:
The Impact of ICTs on Development
The United Nations, World Economic Forum, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development agree that ICTs are a crucial driver of national development. According to a United Nations report from 2011, access to ICTs has overlapping and significant effects in economic, social and environmental realms. Bridging the digital divide impacts poverty alleviation, healthcare, privacy and security, education, citizen participation, employment, and innovation and research, among others.
While we can measure impact in number of children educated, computers provided, or other ways, the true impact is multi-layered, with global implications. Keep an eye on our Change Leaders as they continue to impact individuals and communities through technology.
Our Change Leader in Senegal, Alassane Ngom, has been making great progress since the launch of his Science and Technology intervention program in schools from the beginning of this year. The Steering Committee of the Science and Technology Park initiative, has decided to expand the project further by launching a program between September and October this year to strengthen science and technology leadership and education for 34 teachers and 51 students from 17 colleges.
The objective of the project is to promote and give more life to science clubs in schools by gradually working to infuse scientific content within school governance, cultural and recreational activities. Read more about Alassane and his work here.
When Erasmus Ackon and Marian Ewurama Wiredu started IT4Teens, they planned to impart ICT knowledge to children from age eight and above for free. IT4Teens has been designed as a safe out of school learning environment where children work with adult mentors to sharpen their IT skills from introduction to computers to general graphic designing, software development, mobile application development, website designing, hardware and networking. Below is an inspirational story of a child who has been impacted by their work.
Sixteen year old Claude Obiri Asare’s achievement in IT4Teens is indeed an embodiment of the saying that hard work really pays off. Claude, a first year student of Korsah Complex Junior High School, is the eldest of five siblings and comes from a very humble background. He is being cared for by his single mother, madam Gladys Obiri Asare.
Claude enrolled at IT4Teens on June 27, 2013 without him having any idea as to how to even boot a computer.
He has always been a shy, quiet looking boy who is always the first to come and the last member to leave the IT4Teens premises. One year down the lane, Claude has been able to master HTML 5 and Alice 3D animating software that teaches children basic coding principles.
He has been awarded a full tuition scholarship by IT4Teens whereby all his tuition fees at the Junior High School level will be covered by IT4Teens.
Read more about IT4Teens and the great impact they are making in children’s lives here.
This story is one of many lives that one of our Ghana Change Leaders, Susan Sabaa, has turned around through her juvenile rehabilitation work with the organisation, Child Research and Resource Center, CRRECENT. Susan is working towards system change by working with all correctional centres in Ghana to provide career and life guidance to youth who would otherwise be left to fend for themselves alone after being discharged. Thanks to her work policy, much is being done to ensure child protection becomes an integral part of juvenile correction centres. Susan enrolled Patrick Mensah into her juvenile rehabilitation program after his discharge from the juvenile correctional center. Patrick writes about his life.
“This is a story of my life. After completing Junior high school, with no hope of further education, life took me on a mischievous errand, which landed me in a correctional center. My world was crushed and I lay hopelessly on the fence of the juvenile correctional centre…
Although the battle has not been easy, I have completed my schooling from one of the best senior high schools in Ghana (Presbyterian Boys’ senior high school) and hope to continue on to University. Facing the real world after my discharge has not been an easy three-year journey. The skies cannot be my limit… I shall go beyond the moon to prove to the world that with God there is always hope for the hopeless”.
Patrick was an active member of the cadet corps in his Senior High school. The cadet corps won an award for being 1st in a match pass that took place at Ghana Atomic Energy Commission on the 6th of March 2012. Patrick completed senior high school this year and is awaiting his results.
His story is one of many lives that Susan has turned around through her juvenile rehabilitation work with her organization CRRECENT. Read more about Susan and her work here.
Naomi and her mom Yvette applied to the Tigo and Reach for Change program, with the intention of only launching one school at one hospital. Through the Tigo and Reach for Change Incubator Program, they were inspired to pursue social entrepreneurship even further. Yvette & Naomi decided to follow the Tigo and Reach for Change program and focus all activities of “Ongdnaomi Les Ecoles Du Coeur” on protecting the right to education for hospitalized children by creating schools in hospitals and lobbying to change the law so that it actually protects the right to education for this specific group.
Their first school opened on April 15th last year and the fourth school officially launched this year with a huge press conference together with Tigo DRC. Tigo DRC committed to help them launch in more cities and by giving TVs and tablets to the schools. Over 3,000 young patients ranging in age between 3 and 18 years attend classes in these unique schools.
The President of “Ongdnaomi Les Ecoles Du Coeur”, Miss Naomi Kuseyo Colin, aged 20 and living with a rare disease of abnormal growth deficiency, revealed that she was inspired by her own story to create “School of the heart - Les Ecoles Du Coeur.”
“I always wanted to implement this idea in our country for all Congolese hospitalised children, so that they can continue their schooling. Because when hospitalization is too long, families are ruined by paying health care and find themselves unable to ensure the education of their children.”
Since 2012, with the help of TIGO DRC and Reach for Change, Naomi’s dream has become a reality.
In 2013, 3,029 hospitalized children received free lessons from the school, teachers have provided 12,000 hours of lectures and reached over 15,000 parents. From January 2014 to date, more than 1,300 children have benefited from the schools.
This story shows that there is a huge potential for social entrepreneurship to create positive impact for children in DRC!
The International Day of the African Child is celebrated each year on the 16th of June and was established by African Union to promote children’s rights in the memory of thousands of black school children that were killed in 1990 by the Apartheid regime in South Africa, while protesting against poor quality of education based on racism.
To mark the day in N’Djamena, Chad, Reach for Change together with our Tigo partners joined the rest of the world in celebration. The day was commemorated under the theme: “A child friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa”.
In celebration of the big day, various activities took place in N’Djamena, prior to the day. On Saturday 14th June, a football tournament finale involving 12 primary schools from different parts of N’Djamena, was organised by our Change Leader Mariam Mayoubila.
In addition, a successful launch of a project that fights against bilharzia by using digital solutions took place on Sunday 15th June. The project was initiated and launched officially by Lalaye Didier, an entrepreneur in the Reach for Change Lab Program.
On the big day, 16th June, a huge ceremony was organised by our change leaders Mariam Mayoubila and Adoumkidjim Naiban in Al Mouna Center where about 300 people gathered comprising of students, headmasters, media representatives, entertainers and 50 children from Adoumkijim’s organisation, Center for Special Education for Children (CESER). The official ceremony was opened by various speakers, namely, Adoumkijim, Miriam and Koundja Mayoubila, the Reach for Change Program Manager in Chad. They emphasised on the significance of the Day of the African Child as an opportunity to mobilise efforts towards improving children’s lives, since they play a big part in creating a bright future for the African continent.
Colorful and vibrant dances were part of the entertainment and children were invited to dance along as well while Mariam’s ballet was presenting different dances of Chad. The presentation was followed by the Tigo ambassadors’ performance.
Throughout the ceremony, there was a distribution of gifts to all children and the football teams who left the event happy and smiling after a full day filled with fun and engaging events.
CREATION HILL TECH FAIRS, RWANDA
On June 20, 2014 CreationHill organized a Tech Fair at Kagarama Secondary School. Tech Fairs are the first step in a 3-stage process designed to increase interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) among children. Interested students join Tech Clubs where CreationHill-trained local teachers mentor them. At the end of the year, students from different Tech Clubs unite in a Engineering Camp for a week of fun, competitions and technology sessions.
Chimene Umutoniwase’s story
Chimene is a Senior 5 student at Kagarama Secondary School, Rwanda. During the Tech Fair organized by CreationHill at her school, she got to play with electronic circuits and built different projects including flashlights and intelligent games.
“Before the fair, I did not think technology was something I could do. But now I believe I can do everything I set my mind to.”
Chimene looks forward to joining one of the CreationHill’s Tech Clubs at her school to keep exploring different technologies and learn how to use them to make a difference in her community.
Her dream is be an engineer and work on programs to help children love and use technology.
Growing up, Joseph loved playing with radios and digital watches. He would take them apart, study and modify them. Now a Senior 5 student at Kagarama Secondary School, his school schedule and limited access to labs do not allow him to do that tinkering anymore. After the CreationHill’s Tech Fair, Joseph said he was inspired by a video of Richard Turere, a Kenyan teenager whose innovation, Lion Lights, saves both lions and his community’s cattle.
“The fair revived my dreams. I know think everything is possible. In the near future, I will build something” he said.
Joseph dreams of becoming an electrical engineer and help make custom tech products tailored for the region.