Just got an email from Shawna, one of the Restavek Freedom mentors. She says that they have reached Lesson 4 and that the students are learning really well.

After hearing from the other mentors about the work they’ve been doing with their kids– telling stories, doing math, perhaps long finished with Etoys– it might seem odd to be happy that the Restavek kids are only on lesson 4 of Basic Etoys.

But I want to explain to you why this is perhaps more miraculous than you may expect.

Restavek children are children that work for families for food and shelter. They are orphans, or have been sold by their parents. They are child slaves, offered no pay, and often treated with disrespect. Restavek Freedom is a remarkable organization that has worked wonders convincing families to allow these children to attend school and to gain a basic education. Their participation in the Waveplace program is, itself, astounding.

These students have never seen, let alone touched, a computer. Imagine how difficult it was for them to understand how a touchpad coordinates with your finger, or how you click on something to view more information about it. The students are hardly literate; can hardly type their names. Knowing this, the mentors were a little bit worried about how the students would come along in class.

On our last day, I had a little talk with the mentors before we left. I told them that these students were guaranteed to be slower than other students, simply because they had never really experienced formal education, basic literacy, or any sort of computer knowledge. This class would be challenging for them, but also exciting. The students will learn in leaps and bounds.

So imagine that these students are now actually learning how to coordinate their hands enough to draw objects, and then are able to change their settings so they can rotate, stretch, repaint, and move them in other ways. These students who didn’t know anything about what a computer was or how it could respond to human touch are now interacting with objects– that they created themselves– on a computer screen. These students, who are told day by day to work long hours with little rest, are now the ones telling an object what to do. With their computers, they are in charge.

Can you imagine how empowering that is?

One response to “Restavek Going Great”

  1. […] couple of days ago I was reading something that wrote Beth Santos at the Waveplace blog, amazed by how I identified with what I read, I would like to portray it […]

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