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    Learning to code in Nyabiheke Refugee Camp

    Day 112

    Scratch That Itch

    Nyabiheke Camp has a new computer lab, funded by a group of Changemakers who had visited the camp a couple of years before. And, we’ve been working on a partnership with Rwanda’s kLab – a tech hub and incubator in Kigali – to start a coding school in the lab for Nyabiheke youth.

    So, while we still had our visitors from the U.S. in Nyabiheke, we thought we should get them together with Nyabiheke young people to teach some basic coding and computer skills.

    kLab Managing Director Aphrodice Mutangana joined us to lead a simple coding activity using the Scratch coding language. But when he was about to start he noticed there was not a single young woman present.

    “I’m not starting this lesson until there are young women in this room.” Aphrodice sent the students
    out to gather their sisters, female neighbors and friends who were interested in learning to code.

    Once both young men and women were represented, Aphrodice got started. Our U.S. visitors – computer scientists and technology professionals among them – helped the youth troubleshoot as they followed the instructions and wrote a program in Scratch to control a cat on their screen.

    “Oooh,” they all exclaimed, as they saw the commands they wrote become real when the cat moved and jumped around their screens. It was a morning activity that lasted only a couple of hours, but it gave these youth some initial skills and experiences to build on and some role models as they pursue careers in technology.

    Special thanks to the Changemakers whose determination and generosity funded the computer lab AND to those who have stepped forward since to sponsor Nyabiheke youth in completing the inaugural 6-month Coding School program!

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    Changemakers 365

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