Vail Daily column: Worthy education efforts
Margaret Mead may have said it best: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I’ve always loved this concept and am fortunate to have met several amazing locals who daily demonstrate Mead’s observation.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about three such people: Dr. David Paul, Pam Smith and Dr. Kim Schilling. Today, let me introduce you to a fourth: Anne Prinzhorn. Anne, a Beaver Creek resident, focuses her time, attention and resources on mentoring young women in Uganda. She is always eager to share what she calls “the good news about what’s happening in Africa.” She lives in Uganda six months per year.
Anne’s passion? Bringing technology to the women with whom she interacts in Uganda. The women need electronics, so she is currently seeking used laptop computers, cell phones, Kindles and tablets. All data on donated electronics is erased by an IT professional affiliated with the project. Anne hopes to return with 60 or more products on her next trip in September.
And at that time, she will also bring a new technology called “The Smile.” “The Smile” is a self-contained server and router which can support 60 tablets or any piece of equipment with Wi-Fi. “The Smile” will be loaded here in the U.S. with Wikipedia, Khan Academy and thousands of books, a typing program, logic and creative thinking games created by the University of Colorado, two lessons in computer programming. With “The Smile,” no Internet connection is required when used in remote areas such as Uganda. Anne stresses that while her students can read, no reading material other than newspapers (in which food that had been wrapped) is available and those newspaper wrappers are often months old.
The official name for the project with which Anne is involved is Vision for Africa Int’l. Its Girls Vocational School teaches a computer curriculum including MSFT office (business) programs and media design. Computer training combined with life skills classes offer the young women (aged 10 to 22) an ability to earn upwards of $200 as opposed to nothing. Importantly, the women who attain computer jobs will be able to feed, house and pay school fees for many family members. Anne firmly believes that “ … when independence is achieved, no more handouts will be needed. The result? She calls it ‘dignity.’”
She adds that as a result of her 12-year project, most of her students now understand that they can only adequately support two children of their own while also helping their younger siblings to finish school. Thus, the women’s education project has also served as a tool for birth control.
For more information or to make a donation of used electronics to assist Anne in her work, email Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 303-547-4305.
Karin Weber lives in Edwards and has authored two photo essays. She is an active volunteer in area nonprofit organizations as well as Freedom to Choose, a California restorative justice program founded by former Vail resident Dr. David Paul.