Another busy week here, finishing up the installation and training at Mateves Secondary School, visiting two of our existing Arusha school sites, and returning for a day to the United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC) for some server updates. We were also very grateful for chance to meet with Arusha District Council Executive Director Dr. Charles Wilson Mahera. The Arusha District Council has provided invaluable support to Reneal – it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t be here today without their enthusiastic and effective work on behalf of Reneal.
So much for my expectation of putting up a blog post while we were in Iringa! It turned out to be an incredibly intense ten days of work and travel, and we immediately restarted the work in Arusha upon our return Thursday. We are so grateful to have a quiet weekend at last to catch our breath and rest a little.
Week 1 in Tanzania has already flown by – it seems like just yesterday that we were anxiously packing gear and weighing boxes in preparation for our flight. It’s been a wonderful beginning to our work here, with the installation at Nduruma Secondary School already completed and one of our existing schools already visited. While I always make up a schedule before a trip, it is miraculous that we have actually followed it so far! But the magic must really be credited to so many people that have helped us: Reneal School Liaison David Nyangaka, the Headmaster and teachers at Nduruma Secondary School, Judy Severson from our partner NGO The School Fund Tanzania, Habari Node and Arusha Node Marie, and folks at the Lutheran Centre in Arusha where we are staying.
It’s our last full day here at home before we leave for Tanzania tomorrow. The trip that has been on the horizon for months now is finally at hand! Nine of the ten boxes of equipment are closed and taped up, and most of the rest of the gear is stuffed into duffel bags already. No matter how much time there is though, there is always a rush at the end. I imagine the schools are feeling the same excitement – and panic – as they prepare for our arrival!
There’s a lot in the news these days about high stress levels in the lives of Americans – too much work and not enough time, rushing from here to there with no time to relax. Now that I’m out of the realm of paid employment, it’s interesting to note that I’m still stressed out! As Neal and I prepare for the upcoming time in Tanzania, the work days are getting longer and I’m waking up in the middle of the night making mental lists of things I need to do – and of course worrying about things that I can’t control. But in the grand scheme of things, we wouldn’t want it any other way. For us, too little stress is perhaps worse than too much.
The nearer our departure date gets, the faster time seems to fly. Neal has a few more tweaks of the server software to make, but I’ve already tested much of it and it’s very close to final. Then he’ll burn the hard disks with the image and we’ll be ready to pack. One other wonderful piece of news this week was that the fabric donated by my former co-worker Jennifer Robles and her sewing club arrived at schools in the Philippines. The happy looks on their faces says it all!
Neal and I had one last blast of summer fun this last week, doing some backpacking in the Sierra Nevada of California. The fresh air and beautiful scenery helped clear our minds before the final flurry of activity for the Tanzania trip later this month.
Things are getting comically chaotic here at Reneal Headquarters, between the Tanzania trip preparation, packing the Free Geek equipment to send to the Philippines, and Neal’s new R&D work with the virtual reality goggles. Without a resident non-geek to keep things under control, Neal and I have been able to go wild with our “mission control” interior design look! The good news is that tomorrow, three big boxes of computer equipment will be picked up for delivery to a school in the Philippines (one of our 2018 projects).
We’ve both been busy recently with a variety of tasks. And as the Tanzania trip nears, the pace will continue to accelerate! Neal’s big recent accomplishment was completing an update of the workstation version of the Reneal system. I finished testing the Free Geek equipment, so it is ready to ship to the Philippines for the 2018 projects. I’ve also started pulling together the equipment that we’ll be taking to Tanzania. And in his spare time, Neal has been exploring an exciting new capability that we’re hoping to pilot in the Philippines in 2018.
Readers of this blog are always hearing about “servers”, the powerful computers that are at the heart of the Reneal system. The Reneal server computer stores all of the programs and educational materials used by the students and teachers and acts as the repository for all of the files that are generated. Neal has now finished building the four server computers that we will carry to Tanzania in August to set up Reneal systems at four new schools. This week I am inspired to write about human “servers” who are making a positive difference in the world through their compassion and generosity.