In many ways you can say that Moz appears to be onto something refreshingly different this year. Particularly in Kenya, a major community-driven research project on digital skills will be taking place throughout the year. I may not be familiar with the entire history of activities at Mozilla but I am almost certain that this is the first major activity that deliberately focuses on learning about the impact of digital skills on the use of financial services anywhere in the world.
On the 6th of January the foundation announced its call for participation in this project on the Webmaker blog, and naturally, this got me excited because one the targeted areas was Kisumu, our hometown. So I got in touch with the Moz team in charge who in turn requested to have a lead team from western Kenya. They would need researchers, community leads, programmers and curriculum designers for a bootcamp in Nairobi.
Enter the Mozilla Kisumu volunteers: a young, vibrant and knowledge-hungry team of four. When I shared the participation link with everyone in our community, these four were perhaps the most enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn something new. You will love the mix of experience and interests that they will bring to the project.
Chandi (me), Kriss, Winnie and Loso
Winnie is an environmentalist currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in occupational health and safety. She has recently been carrying out research with a couple of projects around the country. She told me that the DSO opportunity promises a different kind of learning experience for her.
Christabel just graduated with a degree in microbiology from the University of Eldoret. She with quite a number of hours in the lab to her name. Why she wants to learn about the impact technology has on finance for people in the bottom of the pyramid is something that only she can explain. Ha ha!
Chandi, me. I just love talking to people, pointing things out when and where I can. Community engagement has been my passion for quite some time now, but I am in it more to learn about people, their needs and how we can help solve them together. I am as well looking forward to learning a lot of things especially about the use of smartphones in peri-urban areas. And, oh, I study Computer Science at the University of the People.
Walter, an undergrad at Maseno, is a programmer with experience in mobile application development, and it is almost obvious why he came onboard. Despite being the usual anti-social when gaming on his PC, the guy can actually instruct the computer to do things. But wait, he is not joining the DSO as a software developer, he wants to be a researcher. He promises to chip in his knowledge during the curriculum development nonetheless. Fair enough!
There are other Mozilla volunteers from across the country in this project, from the coastal city of Mombasa to the capital city of Nairobi. They are all talented. I know this because I got to interact with them at the bootcamp. I am almost certain that we are going to learn many things from each other in the course of the project and it’s my only hope that we can come out with exciting results at the end of this noble cause.