Friday, June 6, 2008

Let's make a website

Tuesday, June 3rd

Rise and shine! I got up early and made myself a peanut butter and banana sandwich for breakfast. The peanut butter here is as real as it gets; I seriously think it’s just ground up peanuts and nothing else. And the bananas are delicious! Everything I ate was probably grown right in Moshi—talk about supporting your local farmers.

I met Faustina, KASI’s secretary, this morning and we began working on a website for them. They had been meaning to make a website for a long time now, but things had been really busy and they needed some motivation to get started. Last year Shirley Fung, another one of the MIT Public Service Center Fellows, developed a guide called “How to Make a Website at an Internet CafĂ©.” It’s a really neat document and has helped several people around Moshi to make their own websites. As per the guide’s suggestion, we decided to use GooglePages. It’s very simple to pick up and if you play around with the layouts and fonts, you can come up with something pretty professional looking!

We talked a lot about who the audience of the website would be and what information they would be looking to find. Faustina told me about some of KASI’s recent events and I had an idea to have a section called “News” on the homepage. The plan is for Faustina to update the site once a month with new stories about what’s going on. (Hopefully this will keep people coming back to the site!) We had another idea to do a “member of the month.” I spent a lot of time showing her how to use the program and of course we spent a lot of time chatting, so the site isn’t quite done yet. But I promise to post the link as soon as we finish. Stay tuned!

While we were working on the website I heard some drumming come from outside. I was so intrigued that I popped my head outside and found a whole ensemble of traditional dancers and drummers practicing for a performance. I thought I would just watch for a bit but after a few minutes they spotted me and I was dragged out onto the dance floor! Luckily there are no photos of me, but I’ll never forget my attempt at traditional Tanzanian dancing in the middle of a regular Tuesday afternoon.

I left KASI around five and set off to find Albert and Samson, two wheelchair technicians who work at KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre). They work with Abdullah who I probably talked a lot about last year. Unfortunately Abdullah is in South Africa right now for a training program on special wheelchair seating, but he should be back at the beginning of July.

For a small town finding these guys in Moshi was such an adventure! Both of them had new cell phone numbers so tracking those down was the start of the battle. I called Albert first and the person who picked up was only speaking Swahili, so Joseph talked to him and was told that the wheelchair workshop had closed. That was our first tip that we had the wrong number! One of Joseph’s friends said he had Samson’s new number so he gave it to us but it ended up being a different Samson, who of course had no idea what we were talking about. We finally found them at a bar outside the hospital and it was so great to see them! I didn’t stay long because it was already dark but we made plans to meet tomorrow morning.

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