November 2008 Archives

Computer School

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Here you can see our IT trainer Joseph Mumba, and a group of Makeni Centre Primary School children attending computer lessons.

They are using a mixture of computers, some gifts from the Open University in the UK and others recently donated by a college in Holland. Thanks to these kind donations we are now quite well equipped in terms of hardware.

We have limited capacity in this small hall, which was not designed for computer use and is in  need of general upgrading, in spite of previous repairs. For the time being, though, it serves a useful purpose in introducing our staff and students to computer use.

There is plenty of room for
expansion in terms of the teaching.  Eventually, I would like to see us teaching the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL).

There is no connectivity outside of the main office at the centre (which has a dial-up connection). Greater bandwidth is currently outside our reach, due to high trees between us and the Lusaka radio link (I'm told; I imagine we could use a receiver mounted on a water tower, but that would involve further expense), but more problematically because of ongoing costs, which are hard to justify at the moment.

Telephone number changes

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It's so Simple... isn't it?

Anything but, it would seem. We have reports of many people failing to reach our phone numbers using the new 211 code for Lusaka, which seems to often result in a "number not in use" message.

On speaking to an operator we are advised to try 1 instead of 211. It appears that old and new prefixes are running alongside each other and one or the other may work, or not.

This official notice announcing changes beginning in May 2007 tells us that the Zambia code is still 260, but that the Lusaka land line code has gone from 1 to 211, when calling from outside of Zambia.

In Zambia, the Lusaka land line prefix 01 has changed to 021.

Mobile numbers are another story, as shown in the other entries. Recently I have managed to get through to Makeni using 1 for Lusaka on skype, but not using 211 by any means. Will the real Lusaka code please stand up!

A full briefing can be found on the Communications Authority web page on

It seems to get increasingly less simple, but we are advised that the cut off for changes was November 2007. Perhaps they are behind schedule?

Just try 1, or 211. One may work.

Elections and Electricity

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For a year or so now the centre has been suffering prolonged power cuts, disrupting work on a daily basis, and making it difficult to pump water for the schools, orphanage and daily use. On some occasions we have had to close the school because we could not provide water to flush toilets.

In addition erratic power leads to damage to freezers and other equipment and hence lost food and medical supplies, as well as huge amounts of lost work time. We have averaged as little as 12 hours of power in a day, and sometimes 48 hours with only a few hours of power.

One implication of this is that laptops rather than PCs (as uninterruptible power supplies are costly) are our best hope for computer use.

As elections approached, the situation improved somewhat. The bad news is that there is no sign of a short-term fix to the problem after the elections. There is a power shortage in the southern African region in general, and while capacity remains low, in spite of frequent complaints, residents of Makeni have continued to receive worse treatment than residents in other areas of Lusaka.

Elections have now passed off quite peacefully, and we hope that the present glut of power (that is, as much as 48 hours without interruption) will continue! Fingers crossed...

Anointed Lilies

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The Anointed Lilies are the choir of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Makeni. The church is part of the Continuing Anglican Communion in Zambia and is located on the grounds of Makeni Centre.

On my last visit I thought it would be fun to suggest a recording session and to produce a fund-raising CD.  We spent about an hour in the church with my little portable recorder.  When I returned to the UK I transferred the results to my pc and edited them, then a local producer made us 100 copies of the CD.

Dscf0069-crop.jpgThere are still a few of these CDs available - yours for a donation of £6 + p&p - or more, of course :-)

Blog News

We now have a blog facility! 

I've installed Movable Type, after a little rummaging and chmod'ing. It's looking pretty good...

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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