Inveneo Computer Lab Archives

Digital Literacy Brings Hope to Women in Rural Haiti

  1. Posted by Michelet Guerrier on March 19, 2013 in the categories: News, Uncategorized

Nancy Jean-Pierre speaking on the last day of her training on how much she’s learned.

The Haitian town of Dessalines sits in the middle of the country’s northern Artibonite Department. Spread out over 460 square kilometers the rural countryside around Dessalines is home to just over 12,000 people, as well as two of the 25 schools participating in a digital literacy program funded by the Intel Foundation. Launched by Inveneo and NetHope, Digital Literacy for Haiti Rebuilding (DLHR) offers basic computer training in Haitian communities like Dessalines and provides schools with the resources to continue the courses once the program ends. To date more than 500 people have taken part in the training, nearly 60 percent of whom have been women.

Nancy Jean-Pierre is one of these women. 20 years old, single and without children, Nancy was among the 27 attendees at the program’s first course given earlier this month at Institution Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In 2012 the school received a solar-powered computer lab as part of Inveneo’s Haiti Connected Schools program and is one of the many sites that DLHR uses as community training centers.

Having not yet passed the state exams, Nancy’s still considered an 11th grade student.

“After I failed the baccalaureate last year,” Nancy said, “I felt ashamed and hopeless. I did not want to go back to school. I wanted to learn something to be my profession. I went to a computer course for several months but did not learn much because the school did not have computers for practice.”

“So when I learned about Inveneo coming to give a special course here in Dessalines, I did not want to miss it. I came and I have learned so much with the instructors that I feel I can teach now. I would have lost a big part of my life if I had missed this course. I will continue to learn computers and help others who do not know. And that will be my profession.”

Nancy believes technology has the power to change her own life as well as the lives of people in her community. Dessalines may by a rural farming center, but there is overwhelming interest in learning how to use computers and the Internet. Farmers and businesswomen alike have taken the course, wanting to stay current with technology to make sure they’re not left behind. They hope that their experience learning to use computers will open their eyes to better ways to do their jobs and run their businesses. Younger participants are considering entirely new career paths focusing on IT.

The standard computer course involves 24 hours of class time and covers computer fundamentals (mouse, keyboard, etc.) and the basics of Microsoft Word, email and the Internet. Two sections of twelve students each – one in the morning and one in the afternoon – ensure that 24 participants get hands-on training with computers throughout the entirety of each course.

Nancy receiving her certificate. From left: Rigaud Bel, Nancy Jean-Pierre, Michelet Guerrier

And while providing substantial benefit to participants, the courses are also proving to be economically sustainable. Attendees at Institution Jean-Jacques Rousseau paid 400 HTG, the equivalent of roughly US$10, for the full course. Future classes – which are already filling up – are being offered at 750 HTG. With the course fee that the schools collect, they can pay for trainers, Internet connectivity and ongoing maintenance of the lab.

Looking back at the training, Nancy feels she’s learned most of the important basics:

“I can type and format all kinds of texts. At least I can work as a typist now and I will make some money. I know how to do research on the Internet, which I think is very important for everyone because here we do not even have libraries. But with the Internet, we can find information about everything.

“For this reason, I am in this computer lab almost every day. Sometimes I stay here on the computer 3 or 4 hours a day to do typing exercises and research on the Internet. And with the Internet, email and Facebook, I am happy that I can connect with people everywhere. I am a member of a Facebook group that has many people with whom I can share everything I want. I love the Internet!”

Inspired by the patience and teaching skills of her instructors, Nancy offered to assist in future classes at Institution Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In response the school has agreed to hire her previous instructor and to bring Nancy on as an assistant. Nancy will have access to technology, mentorship of her instructors and the possibility of a small salary.

Rigaud Bel, one of the program’s community IT instructors, hopes to help Nancy develop the confidence needed to take over the course entirely, teaching future classes on her own.

Women like Nancy are inspiring examples of how DLHR is changing lives. With more than 500 past participants and another 200 women expected in the coming weeks, schools are looking to expand their programs to include courses in Microsoft Excel and advanced Internet usage.

With these skills women coming out of the program will be able to do more than simply compete in Haiti’s emerging job market. They’ll know they’re not alone, and they’ll be able to stay connected online where collaboration, sharing and learning continue to thrive.

Michelet Guerrier is a project manager for Inveneo working in Haiti.

How Schools in Haiti Surprise Us

  1. Posted by Inveneo on August 22, 2012 in the categories: Education, News, Projects

In June, the Inveneo team in Haiti, Sybille Fleischmann, Michelet Guerrier, and Ronald Benjamin took a trip to Ouanaminthe to visit two schools where we deployed computer labs and trained teachers. This initiative was sponsored by Digicel Foundation and Kellogg Foundation.

One of these two schools, Ecole Nationale Ti Laurier, was a concern for us. I am Michelet Guerrier, project manager for the Haiti Connected Schools Program, and I worried about the management of the computer lab, but I was happily relieved. When Ronald and I went to Ecole Nationale Ti Laurier, our visit intended to surprise them, but they surprised us. When I looked at the door and the walls of the lab, there were lots of decorations made by the teachers posted almost everywhere. It was clear to any visitor that it is a well-operated computer lab.

We found Arold Phanord, one of the teachers we had trained in February, deep in a teaching context. Students were being guided and each student in the lab was working on a different program on the computers. A 20-year old 6th grader was on Google searching for information about Jean-Jacques Dessalines and when I interviewed him, he said:

“I did not even know the word ‘òdinatè‘ (‘computer’ in French Creole) before the school received these computers. But now, I have learned so many things in two months, I think I will be smarter from day to day.”

A lot more positive things can be expected from this school. And I hope we can use it as a model to inspire other schools, like those in the Haiti Connected Schools Program.

Inveneo Buyers Guide to Sustainable ICT Infrastructure in Low Resource Settings

  1. Posted by Inveneo on January 18, 2012 in the categories: News, Publications

The Inveneo Buyers Guide to Sustainable ICT Infrastructure in Low Resource Settings is intended to serve as a planning tool for deploying information and communications technologies (ICTs) in low resource settings – i.e., communities lacking basic support infrastructure, such as grid power and broadband connectivity, and where computer skills among users and facilities managers are often limited.

It highlights the most important considerations in the selection, design, deployment and support of general facilities, ICT tools and supporting power systems. We have intentionally not addressed the complicated issue of mobile computing devices, opting instead to focus on the challenges facing those planning to deploy and operate shared access computing facilities such as school computer labs, community knowledge centers (CKCs), process outsourcing facilities, etc.

The ICT Buyers Guide is divided into two sections. Part 1 covers the key factors to consider in selecting major infrastructure components, from buildings and facilities to computers, peripherals, software and connectivity. Part 2 discusses infrastructure support and logistical issues around deployment.

Because there are many topics to cover, and to keep this resource as short and accessible as possible, each section starts with a brief introduction, followed, where appropriate, by a simple bullet list of key points to consider.

We invite you to provide your feedback on this document and ideas for improving it via email at

The Community of Saut d’Eau Is Proud to Have Its Own Computer Lab

  1. Posted by Inveneo on June 17, 2011 in the categories: Education, News, Projects

Three years ago, the Digicel Foundation rebuilt a school in Saut D’Eau, Haiti, replacing a simple shack with a real school building. This effort was one of many projects by Digicel Foundation to build communities and the community spirit in Haiti.

The Digicel Foundation has built 37 schools in Haiti since 2007 with a further 22 schools under construction. The Digicel Foundation aims to complete 50 schools in time for the new school year in September.

The children of the Saut D’Eau school are also building their own education, with technology. Inveneo and Digicel Foundation installed a modern computer lab with Inveneo High Performance Computing Stations and Internet access through a donation from the friends and family of Digicel colleague Jean- Marc Le Hir who died on 12 January 2010.

The computer lab has changed the lives of the 300 students at the school and their community. The school director says:

“The community of Saut d’Eau is proud to have its own computer lab. Indeed, it is the only one that exists throughout the area. Also, we offer the opportunity, not only to our students, but also to the youth from other schools of Saut d’Eau to benefit from this facility.

Our students used to see computers in the books; some directors did not even know how to open a computer. But thanks to the Digicel Foundation they can actually see, touch, learn to use it and do research. This is an important step in improving the quality of education in Saut d’Eau.”

This computer lab is also another step in Inveneo’s efforts to build Haiti back better. We are working with organizations like Digicel Foundation to increase the educational experience of Haiti’s children, arguably some of the most underserved in the Western Hemisphere.

Inveneo and Rock Global Help Sister Irene Bring Hope to Refugees in Rural Rwanda

  1. Posted by Inveneo on January 7, 2009 in the categories: News, Relief

(by Ted Miller)

In the Kiziba refugee camp, in the Western Province of Rwanda, Sister Irene Guia is making a difference in the lives of thousands. As Country Director for the Jesuit Refugee Service in Rwanda, Sister Irene is responsible for the formal education of primary and secondary students (8,400 and 1,400 respectively) at Kiziba and the refugee camp of Gihembe, each of which houses more than 18,000 displaced residents of war-torn Congo. She also oversees projects for youth who have abandoned the school system.

Sister Irene is a driven and passionate humanitarian with a clear vision of how to make life better for all in the camp. When it came time to put the next part of her plan into action – to build a computer-learning center in each camp that could be used to help teach young people basic computer skills – Sister Irene approached it with the same attitude.

She insisted that best way to improve the lives for people in the camp was to teach them basic job skills and then have them teach others. With basic education and computer training, she hoped to help many of these refugees make it out of the camp and make lives for themselves. She also hoped to give them a taste of the outside world and a chance to communicate with their peers outside the camp.

For the first phase of the project, Sister Irene wanted to open one computer center at Kiziba in time for the beginning of the new school year in August. However, having never attempted to pull off a project quite like this before, she did not know where to start or who to turn to. She put out a call to her colleagues in the region and learned about a project that Inveneo had been involved with the prior year.

“When I first decided that I wanted to go through with this project, it was pretty intimidating,” says Sister Irene. “I think this is a challenge many people like me in the region face every day. We want to do good, we want to push things forward and provide opportunities to the people in our camps, but lack the contacts and resources to do so. It was a true blessing to learn about Inveneo, and the good they are doing throughout Africa.”

After exchanging e-mails with Inveneo Project Manager Jessica Santana, it was decided that the Kiziba project would include the installation of 14 new, low power computers networked together with a central printer along with a reliable generator as the power source. Refurbished computers were not an option because they were unreliable, and they needed something sustainable to work with inconsistent power in the camp.

Inveneo introduced Sister Irene to Johnny Kayihura from Rock Global Consulting, one of Inveneo’s certified ICT partners in Rwanda, who led for the installation project.

“Sister Irene knew what she wanted from the start,” reports Johnny Kayihura. “When she puts her mind to something, there is a straight forward set of goals, and she won’t take no for an answer. Its driven people like her that are helping change people’s lives in our country in a big way.”

With close oversight from Sister Irene, Rock Global and Inveneo quickly jumped into action. They had just two months until the opening of classes, and had a lot of work to do. First Inveneo had to deliver the hardware, then Rock Global had to perform the install and make sure everything was up and running for the students.

“Working with Sister Irene on this project was a rewarding challenge,” states Jessica Santana, Inveneo Project Manager. “She has such a passion for her students. Inveneo and the team at Rock Global worked hard to ensure that she received the equipment and support she needed to implement a successful, sustainable program.”

By August, the project at Kiziba was completed and the camp had its first computer-learning center. Almost immediately, students and teachers began taking advantage of the new technology, and Sister Irene reported nothing but smiles from each and every one of them. This past December, Sister Irene began training 85 teachers on basic computer literacy. During the holidays, small groups of teachers attended five hours per week of training each.

Currently, Sister Irene, Johnny, and Inveneo are already hard at work to complete a second computer center at Gihembe, set to be finished in early 2009.

“I believe that completing projects, big or small, will always depend on the strength of our engagement with others,” explains Sister Irene. “That’s why I believe that this project, in spite of being very simple, will somehow affect the lives of all of us. From the first moment, what has driven all of us is the commitment to helping others, especially refugees. I want to thank Inveneo and Rock Global for their commitment to our desire to make this happen.”