A Lesson in Generosity
Part of my aspiration in returning to Ghana was to bring a computer for Maxwell and the school and help Maxwell get familiar with how to navigate the Internet, Gmail, and Facebook. No one in the village has a computer, though ironically the Ghanaian government requires that ICT (information and communication technology) be taught in all schools. The teachers in Mafi Tsati dutifully teach about hardware and software, though they’ve never touched a computer. In addition, because they don’t have a computer or smart phone, they don’t have access to the wealth of information that is the Internet–something many of us take for granted.
Thanks to a generous donation from a parent in my class, I was able to buy a used MacBook Pro for the school in Mafi Tsati. Additionally, a family I tutor donated one of their Mac laptop for the project as well right before I left. This was so exciting and I feel blessed to have such support. Not only that, but a teacher from Poway Unified had heard about the trip, and he donated his old laptop as well. I felt pretty spiffy with three computers in my carry-on bag, boarding the airplane…
When we arrived in Ho, the town nearest Mafi Tsati, Robert and I had some time to look at all the equipment and chat excitedly about my plans. After a while, Robert got a bit quiet and seemingly serious. There was something he wasn’t telling me. I’ve learned that if I have questions I have to ask. It turns out that all of Ghana is all about Windows and PCs. He said essentially that these three computers would do no good. My overflowing excitement trickled to none as my heart sank, allowing the realization of it all to settle. I had brought this equipment, these gifts for my village, in vain.
My mistake had been to take note last summer that DIVOG was using iPads and iPhones, therefore assuming that Mac was being used in Ghana. As it turns out, DIVOG is much more westernized that the majority of Ghana, and are not representative of the norm. Had I slowed down to really think this through, I would have been able to come to this conclusion. In making my plans for bringing the computers, I had also been motivated by the fact that I can teach someone how to use a Mac, but I’m not well versed with PCs. Robert went on to explain that they teach Windows in schools in Ghana and the little Maxwell will have learned will pertain to the Windows and the PC systems. In addition, any and all computer repair and equipment shops will deal only with PCs.
The reality was sinking in deepr. These computers were of no use to the village. I had brought three Mercedez Bendz with no wheels. Robert contacted Richard, the founder and head of DIVOG, and it was quickly decided that DIVOG would trade the PC Richard had just been given on his trip to the States. Imagine this for a minute. Here is a Ghanaian who devotes his life to helping his countrymen, who has just returned from a trip to the States with his pride and joy in hand: a new PC laptop complete with all kinds of extras. Without hesitation, Richard traded his new PC for the Macs I had brought. Since the DIVOG staff does have some experience with Macs, he thought it would be reasonable for them to use the Mac laptops. “What we don’t know, we’ll learn!” he cheerfully explained. We made the swap, and so DIVOG taught me an incredible lesson in generosity.