Saturday, 30 May 2009
More on Butterfly
I've been hanging back a little with Butterfly, waiting for some more positive developments and on Thursday I decided I had to make these developments happen and so I requested interviews with the 16 butterfly contendors that I had had recommended. 24 were still missing, but I took the decision simply to assess whether the calibre was here or not.
I have posted in a little detail on NED.com, if you are interested in seeing more. In the first group, there was one standout. He simply understood everything I said and why I said it. He then framed his answers in this context and explained that, although he liked football and Manchester United, he was very aware of his surroundings, whether it be malaria, poor hygiene in the streets or poverty. Whilst others commented on how things impacted on them, his perception was more holistic and detached and ultimately very sensible.
The next day I interviewed another eight from a very disadvantaged area of Kampala. This was much more upsetting and some of the kids were terribly stressed and worried about their home predicaments. Most had lost their fathers and their mothers were barely coping. One was desperately concerned about remaining in school, as he was the only one his mother could afford to pay for. From here again there was one standout - a 13 year old artist, with confidence and awareness of her situation. She was too in abject poverty, but somehow you felt she could could handle it...
On Saturday I felt positive that these young people deserved support and so I thought it would be interesting to test some of the activities, which would take place as part of the Butterfly project programme. I called two in from the first group and we played cards - Eco Fluxx http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/18333 - had some time on the Spore Creature Creator and then we went down to the local internet cafe. In Kampala, this is much more sensible, than having some kind of XO laptop contract.
I test Eco Fluxx with a lot of people and one might have thought this a hard sell, espectially since these children were young and living in the slum area. The game was learnt and taken on board straightaway by one and the other seemed very happy to participate, although she was less confident on the rules. He was making logical decisions with his cards and concentrating.
Then we tried the Spore Creature Creator. This is actually free software, which I'd purchased on disk - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spore_Creature_Creator. I thought it would be a fun programme for youngsters to learn how to use a computer - how to click, drag etc. I was right. Within minutes, both had learnt the fundamentals of mouse use and were busy designing their weird and wonderful creations. I had to call time, as they didn't want to stop. The picture above is one of the kid's creations with its babies!
Next I took them to the local cybercafe, where I had never seen anyone under about 22. So I bought them some time each (about 30p's worth), showed them how to Google and asked them to find something out about a favourite subject. I told them that the internet had every piece of information they could ever want and more and so they must learn how to use it effectively.
They seemed to graduate toward YouTube, which is problematical on 3k/second, which I explained, so they focused on just browsing around. It all seemed to work so naturally.
I had been watching their reactions all day and I could see the one was like a cheetah let out of his cage and he did not want to be put back in. The other was tired and ready to return home, having, I think, had an enjoyable afternoon.
http://www.stephanietolan.com/is_it_a_cheetah.htm is an interesting article regarding gifted and talented. In our African context to me it seems even more valid.
Tomorrow I return to Kireka - I hope to have some interesting coverage of that in a few days time.