Lichutam’s computer literacy program has now been running for close to four months. Students attend classes each day focusing primarily on typing as well as other basic computer functions. The classes also entail a creative aspect in the use of cameras and video cameras in order for the students to express themselves and learn how to use digital cameras and video equipment in conjunction with the computers with which they have become so well acquainted.
Two weeks ago a generous donor promised us two laptops in perfect condition. I am happy to announce that a few days later they were successfully delivered to the Polochic Valley and we are now running our classes with six functioning laptops. This is a great success both for Lichutam and the computer literacy program itself. We can now accommodate more students at once. Lessons can be held with more students at a time which frees up more time in the afternoon for other programs like art, cooking class, gardening, and sports.
The students are very excited about the new computers and each day everyone rushes to class in hopes of arriving first and getting their chance to try out the new laptops. As one student remarked, “They are the prettiest machines.” I could not agree more. The average student is now typing between ten and fifteen words a minute. Typing is now a fun and easy activity for the majority of students. This morning, one student, Elmer, was explaining to me how he now wants to learn how to use many computer programs. He is driven to continue learning more about computers and how to use computer programs with hopes of one day working with computers professionally. He even inspired his family to purchase a home computer which he described to me with pride.
The dreams of Elmer are the dreams of Lichutam. It is not to force all forms of 21st century life into this culture but rather to put the advancements of the developed world into the hands of these people in order for them to do as they please. Many indigenous peoples have been trampled by development, but as minor successes from Lichtuam’s programs continue to build, we are confident that the people of the Polochic Valley will be in control of their own development to gain from its advantages and continue on their way to a bright future.