First phase of Tonga.Online - a resounding success

The first temporary deployment of a mobile Internet Centre - The Big Blue Van (BBV) of World Links for Development Programme - in the Tonga area is over. That's the sad news. The good news is that this first phase of the Tonga.Online Project has met an overwhelming and enthusiastic response from all parts of the Tonga community. 

Some students came from as far as Siabuwa, about 100km away, some had to walk for more than 10km to visit the Big Blue Van. The resource teacher in charge of this outreach programme, Mr. Jabulani Chirinda summarised his impressions as follows: " From this response it is quite obvious that the people in Binga are in need of an information vehicle to reach out to the whole world".Many thanks to him and to all other staff and stakeholders involved !! They have worked very hard to overcome numerous hurdles due to poor infrastructure and economic conditions. These problems also reflect the imbalances which still exist in the "global village" and particularly in cyberworld.The next obvious step is the speedy completion of the first permanent Internet Centre in the Tonga area based at Binga Highschool. Teachers, parents and students there have been encouraged by the first project phase and are commited to carry on. They have initiated a fund raising campaign and the whole community is in support of this undertaking. In the meantime, it is vital to share all existing means of information like e-mail and phone/fax to keep the flow of communication alive - mulonga!
Cooperation between schools in Austria and the Tonga area is about to start and to take roots and should contribute to achieve this goal.
The website has also been welcomed as "a highly interesting effort" and a "very innovative approach". It has proved to be an efficient tool of communication and presentation of the project. There were some critical remarks about its appearance and handling in the beginning, but that could be clarified when Sabine and Helmut explained their intentions and approach. Many thanks to them and to all other members of the working group on the Austrian side, too!!
Some stakeholders and visitors to the site obviously still shy away from exposing their views in public. We would therefore like to encourage all of you to use this tool to its full potential like you use the pinboard or a discussion forum! The next step regarding the webdesign will be the provision of support to all stakeholders in the Tonga area by our partner CyberplexAfrica. This will enable them to represent themselves on the Internet and to contribute more Zimbabwean contents. Suggestions and proposals referring to the above outline of the way forward are most welcome! Twalumba!
Peter Kuthan AZFA