Let me tell you a story! Granny’s love telling stories and this one is True!
When I was 58 I was made redundant from the charity I had founded – to create employment for disabled people – No redundancy. No Pension – what to do?
I decided to write educational books – even received an international award for my Learn with Grandma educational programme! Sadly printing costs soon made me realise that I had to change tack. I was invited to take part in a EU funded project and thought it would be fun – It was and for the next few years Learn with Grandma – now set up as a not for profit organisation – took part in many EU projects. They were fun & I made many friends throughout Europe but always felt that they were dead ends. Projects had to have a beginning; a middle and an end. Such a waste! I wanted to do things that were sustainable!
Then in 2011 I was invited to speak at elearning Africa conference in Tanzania. I had never imagined that I would ever go to sub-Saharan Africa – especially all by myself plus the cost! By this time I was over 60 – so getting the state pension. But that was and is my only income.
Then a friend told a contact. He came to see me and offered to pay for the cost of the trip!! So off I went not realising that I would travel much further! I still do not know how far this journey will take me.
God works in His way! He keeps making me meet the people who can help move Learn with Grandma forward. I met many people at that conference but I did not realise that the most important was an ICT teacher – Moses Wamanga – He wrote to me after the conference telling me that he wanted to give up his job as a teacher to travel round Uganda teaching teachers how to use ICT and asked if I could support him.
Clearly I could not – and neither his wife nor I thought he should give up the day job! I suggested instead that he should hold a seminar in his school. Fortunately his Head agreed. Moses was worried that people would not attend as we had no money to cover their travel costs or feed them – I suggested he invite more people! 203 teachers replied and he had to hold 2 seminars.
Via Facebook I had become friends with a Ugandan Minister – as you do!
How many of you are on Facebook? It is a great communication tool.
I wrote & told her what Moses was doing. The Ugandan Government investigated and offered Moses a contract to travel round Uganda teaching teachers how to use ICT – His Government now pay him to do what he wanted to do!
This film clip http://youtu.be/DjaLBx-Cnhc has now been seen by thousands of teachers all over Uganda.
Then in 2013 – I died! If you ever have a Cardiac Arrest the best advice I can offer is to do it in intensive care. I was VERY ill – had open heart surgery; was in hospital for 5 weeks. It took me 5 months to recover and during that time I made a decision – actually I was forced to change the way I had been working because I had resigned as a Director when I was too ill to work and the other Directors decided to close Learn with Grandma down.
When the name was free I re-registered a new NGO – Learn with Grandma was reborn.
I also decided that I was never going to write another business plan or another EU project!
I decided that my retirement project would just be USE Facebook to see how far I could promote intergenerational learning;
I floated the idea that we could use the internet as the bridge to reunite the generations. I put the idea on Facebook & kept on talking about it – following my Granny’s advice – ‘ great things are achieved by DOING a little thing Today! As individuals we may feel that we are insignificant but – with the power of the internet – we CAN spread ideas round the world and we CAN encourage people to take action.
It’s working!!! There are now 28 Learn with Grandma groups on Facebook – currently we do not have a website but I AM working on another EU project!! So watch this space!!
I cannot support projects financially and think that at my age and imperfect health it would be wrong of me to go that route – I just suggest initiatives that people can do themselves. Things that do not cost much money but will make a difference in their community. E.G. I saw that a teacher in UGANDA was raising money to buy sanitary towels. Raising money to throw it away!
I sent her this clip https://youtu.be/tR4CfO-cUWU – she then started raising money to buy a sewing machine – she is now in production! However a curate in Sierra Leone also saw the clip – showed his pastor who went straight out and bought a sewing machine! The next Sunday they had a collection and raised enough money to buy six – but they had 12 ladies wanting to volunteer!! Now they are making pads for all the local girls and making school uniforms. Plus they are sharing the idea to other churches.
By sharing a You Tube clip – sharing an old skill – that project is helping people make the most of their resources in a very practical way. That is just a small example.
Last year – exactly a year after my operation – out of the blue again I was given a donation to go to Uganda. As Moses was now achieving so much I knew that I could help him achieve so much more! Despite my doctors reservations – I just had to go!
I was in Uganda for 2 months – and achieved much more than I anticipated. One of the things I initiated was a seminar to follow the big elearning Africa conference – I was a keynote speaker this time! I realised that – as it cost 380eu most teachers would not be able to afford to attend. So I asked my host – who just happened to be chair of the Head Teachers Association! – if we could hold a seminar in her school! 293 head teachers came from all over Uganda. Decisions taken were ratified by the full membership of over 2,000 head teachers at their AGM. I can honestly say that seminar made a huge difference to the acceptance of ICT in Ugandan schools. please see report http://issuu.com/moseswamanga/docs/elearning_tcn_report_2014
Before I went to Uganda last April there were no Learn with Grandma Groups in Africa now there are 12 and growing.
But what about Europe and what about fun!
Well I have written another EU project – I am not going to lead it! – I am not even going to be a partner – I am will be just a volunteer but not only will this project protect; promote and preserve folk stories from the partner countries – It will create so much fun!! We want to involve as many people in the communities as we can – working and having FUN together.
Last week I filed an EU funding application based on recording – especially – the lesser known EU local folk stories – and I wrote in sustainability lplans so that any country will be able to join a network and create their own ebook of their local stories.
As I was answering the questions the concept just got getting stronger but In essence it’s very simple.
Each country – there are 6 partners from Poland to Portugal – will decide on a local folk story.
They will re-write it in modern vernacular of their own language – they will then translate into English.
I will edit their translation – Later we can add more languages.
They will also illustrate; film and take local photos.
They will create a drama of the story – which will also be filmed. – Love ‘proper’ books BUT you can do so much more with an eBook + there are no distribution costs!!
The creation of the e-book will bring all this together into an innovative package that will show the story and the story of how the ebook was created; It will include the Learn with Grandma education pack that gets the most educational value out of the story. The ebooks will include Drama; music; Dance – involve as many local people as possible – drawing on whatever skills and talents are available locally to add to the story Just imagine how much fun they will have. Showing that fun will encourage others to want to join the network and create more and more ebook stories.
Also as part of the sustainability strategy I suggested setting up a social enterprise to market the books – this could lead to employment – especially for young people & those aged 50+ and an international network! This idea could become an international library of folk stories from all over the world – available digitally all over the world & viewed on any device from a smart phone to large screen presentations
The strategies needed to pull all this together need not be complicated – best if they are kept as simple as possible so that the social interaction we hope to enable becomes a joy – fun for all ages. If it’s fun they will want to do more – not only create more books but also discuss and find other ways of continuing the social interaction and intergenerational learning.
If the bid is successful (& I have to say that very few are in their first application! But they give their evaluation; the points scored and advice on ways to improve) then we can work on bringing in more countries. – including those outside EU. However – we have already decided that with or without a grant we will find a way to make a start.
Just one more thing – as I was in Paris did something very cheeky! I popped into the UNESCO headquarters and asked to speak to ‘someone’ in education who deals with elearning!
I was put through and spoke briefly on the phone – the man said sounds interesting – email me. I
Replied – Of course but I am downstairs – I live in Wales & it would be such a pity to miss this opportunity to meet – could you just spare 2 minutes for me to tell you more!
Up I went – The ball has started the ball rolling.
He told me of a Prize that UNESCO are offering for innovative Ideas using ICT in pedagogical education!!! He has received that email and has replied!!
If you would like to know how this project develops – and get involved email me firstname.lastname@example.org and if you are on Facebook lets become friends! You could join a Learn with Grandma group in your country and if there isn’t one! Start one! Start USING this network to promote what you are doing. Share your achievements across the generations and across the World.
Valerie Wood-Geiger, Wales, October 2015