This marks the end of an unforgettable week for me and the team at ParaguayEduca. Within 4 days, we completed the deployment of 3500 laptops in the city of Caacupé, Paraguay, reaching about 50% of the city’s children aged 6-12. After working close to 16 hours every day, we may have lost out on some eating and sleeping but every minute was worth it!
The week really started on Saturday, when a couple of team members headed to Caacupé to start the process of labelling laptops which I will write more about the other time. They were assisted by a group of volunteers.
On Sunday, the rest of us travelled to Caacupé with high spirits. We are lucky enough to have been given a beautiful, enormous old house in the city which we stayed in for most of the week. We did some planning and set up camp.
Monday started at 4am, a pattern which repeated for the whole week. Most of the team went to the warehouse to continue labelling; I went to finish off some infrastructure and testing work in some schools. When 9am arrived, I had already been working in 6 schools that day. The next step was preparing for the grand symbolic event representing the introduction of the laptops, at the school of Tiniente Fariña. Everything was wonderfully prepared; we had a large audience, lots of press, and had the presence of various important people including the minister of education and the vice president. After various talks and a performance from a well known Paraguayan music group, we handed over the first 10 laptops, to 1 child from each school.
At the close of the event, the children went to their classes and we started the laptop handout for the afternoon students at Tiniente Fariña. Everything went smoothly, I will be writing more about the actual logistics another time. There was much excitement in the air.
Late in the afternoon, we went to the second school, Municipal Santa Teresita. As we walked in carrying boxes, we were greeted with a huge cheer and many smiling children! Another symbolic ceremony was underway, for the parents and children of the school. We began handing out the laptops on stage and moved inside when it got dark. The children were very excited, applauding every single recipient of a laptop, but to my amazement were obedient enough to leave the school without turning on their laptops. The teachers wanted them to wait until the following day, when they would have time to assist the students getting started.
One of the most amazing aspects of the week was simply the excitement of the children. With all of the media attention of the Paraguayan project and the amazing support of teachers and the community, the children were very aware that they would be receiving laptops! Most schools had an opening ceremony, and many have been decorated accordingly. The students had produced various artwork and posters.