Helping Rwanda move forward with technology by Terence Lim

Hello World! It’s a different world out here. 🙂

I’m currently in Rwanda, Africa, where I have a unique and meaningful opportunity to serve as a volunteer here. I work in Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, a healing place that house orphans and vulnerable youths (mostly affected by the Genocide in 1994 where 800,000 people lost their lives and 95,000 children left as orphans) and help them realize their maximum potential. These children have witnessed unspeakable violence as they saw the lost of their parents, and their country destroyed.

I have been here for a couple of weeks now serving as an IT consultant. Unknown to many (even myself before I came), despite being one of the world’s poorest countries, Rwanda is actually very safe, and very similar to Singapore in many ways. Despite the lack of natural resources, both countries have its own strategic entrepot location. That said, Rwanda has a vision to be the “Singapore of Africa” in terms of being a high-tech hub.

Part of my goal here is to help raise the IT knowledge of the locals. While in our world where we are exposed to and taught how to use computers at a very young age, many of the locals here have not used a computer until university or the start of their working life. Here, I was teaching a class of “Mamas”, who take care of “Family houses” in the village, how to use Microsoft Word and Excel to write their daily reports. Some of my other work scope involves helping the village obtain and sustain a Wifi & Internet connection using satellite dishes and Wireless Distribution Systems from towns some 20 km away, simply because it is too expensive to lay cables underground. I also plan to help them build an integrated Student Information System to track the youths before they come into the village, all their activities in the village & school, and ultimately how the students have changed or have been impacted after they graduate from here.

Information Technology is an extremely important tool to empower Rwandans with, in order for them to recreate their nation. It enables the country to leap-frog the key stages of industrialization, and to remain competitive in the fast-paced world. Technology is slowly integrated into the people’s lives, in terms of how they communicate, pay for goods and services etc. Like Singapore, Rwanda’s most valuable resource is it’s people, and fortunately, the people and youths here are extremely friendly, inquisitive, and eager to learn. While Rwanda still has a long way to go, let’s not forget to help them along the way, and also to be appreciative of what we Singaporeans have today, in terms of our economic developments – due to our advances and use of Information Technology.

Click here to see more photos and posts on my experiences in Rwanda.

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