It’s the typical pre-trip whirlwind already: seeing friends and family before we go, wrapping up my consulting work, last minute purchases of equipment, and making piles of stuff to take for our two-month stay in Cebu. The packing list has been honed after many trips for Reneal IEO, but there are always extras for each individual trip. For example, Neal is going to bring his Raspberry Pi and ODROID-C1 computers this time for testing and evaluation. Since we left quite a few items there in Compostela when we left in March (our trusty green tool bag, for example), we’ll be able to travel a bit lighter than usual.
We’re less than two weeks away from our return to Cebu, so it’s time to start printing lists and planning schedules. We are not expecting to do additional installations on this visit, so we can focus instead on spending time at each of the 14 schools that have the Reneal IEO system already in place in the Philippines. We are very excited to reunite with Team Philippines and with the fantastic IT teachers at these schools!
My counting might be off, but this is roughly the hundredth blog post I’ve written since the Reneal IEO website came on line. Reneal IEO celebrated its third corporate birthday just ten days ago!
It’s been a good week, one filled with diverse Reneal IEO tasks for each of us. It was capped off by a Facebook chat last night with Team Philippines member Rogie Abala, who will be making a Reneal IEO video! Meanwhile, the countdown continues for our return to the Philippines!
One of the key challenges for organizations like Reneal IEO is providing on-going tech support when we’re on one continent and our partners are on another. Each year we learn a bit more about how to make this more effective, and each year technology advances overseas help us connect more easily with our colleagues in the Philippines and Tanzania. One recent evening, I had the indescribable joy of chatting simultaneously on Facebook with someone in Tanzania and someone in the Philippines! The technology is cool, but it’s really about the wonderful feeling of connection that we can have with our partners in other countries, even when we’re not there.
Right before we left the Philippines, thirteen new Computer Student Specialists (CSS’s) were identified at Compostela National High School (CNHS) and Compostela Night High School. A CSS is a student with an interest in computers and a willingness to serve others at the school by helping the IT teachers with various tasks. Jade and Jillian, key members of Reneal IEO Team Philippines, were part of the original CSS group at CNHS, so this is a program that we are excited to support!
Our time overseas is always limited, and invariably we end up identifying tasks that we just don’t have time to complete while we’re there. So now that we’ve been back home a couple of weeks, we are busy following up on various tasks from our time in the Philippines.
As Neal and I neared the end of the 2015 Philippines projects, we prepared a letter for the Cebu Province Division and Mandaue City Division Superintendents to summarize the Reneal IEO effort for this year. I’ll include it below. The Reneal IEO system was installed in six new schools in 2015, and additional computers were added to four of the 2014 schools. The total estimated value of the donated equipment, purchased equipment, and equipment shipping was $19,097. Thanks to our generous donors for making this possible! Thanks also to Aboitizland (in the Philippines) and three United States companies for their donations of used computer equipment; thanks to them, Reneal IEO was able to donate 87 computers.
We’re back in America now, trying to sort through action items we brought with us from Cebu as well as deal with the usual return-to-America tasks and readjustment. Before I settle into recap mode though, I want to give a quick report on our final week in the Philippines.
The 2015 project plan for the Philippines is officially completed! Jade and Jillian returned yesterday from Kawit National High School in Medellin, located in northern Cebu. They installed the Reneal IEO system including sixteen laptops donated by a company in America. Kawit NHS was badly damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, so it is especially thrilling to extend our work there! In addition the principal and IT teacher at Kawit NHS have been very eager to use the system, so we are very thankful for the work that Jade and Jillian did over the last four days to install the system and train the teachers. Just as we did at Daanbantayan NHS last year, they stayed at the school since it is too far for a daily commute from Compostela. And just like last year, it sounded like lots of fun in addition to the hard work!