UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT is a section where we share inspiring stories of Telecentre.org members and partners through brief interviews. In this article, we feature Mr Griffin Wasike, Manager of Chwele Telecentre in Bungoma County, Kenya.
TCF: Can you tell us briefly how you became a telecentre manager? How long have you been serving as a telecentre manager?
Griffin: I have had an interest in matters relating to computers and information technology since high school where I did Computer Science and even scored an A- at KCSE level in 2008. After high school, I joined Sinini Tree and Coffee Nursery Women Group where I have been an Information assistant since 2009 to date. In that same year (2009), along with my friends, we founded a youth-led community-based organization called Jubi-Com (registered in 2013) to spearhead ICT integration in community livelihoods, offering computer and Internet related services and training in computer application packages. We started with 3 computers to train the community, with an inclination towards women who have been left out in matters of digital literacy development, on basic computing. With my background in computer studies, I was the trainer cum system administrator; hence I have been the telecentre manager since 2009 to date, with women assistants that I have trained.
TCF: What are the major challenges you have so far encountered in running your telecentre?
Griffin: The challenges I have so far encountered in running our telecentre include:
TCF: What valuable experiences and lessons have you gained from your role as telecentre manager?
Griffin: Skills for working as a team leader. I have to always take charge of my training staff and the students that we train without forgetting the customers that we serve at Chwele Telecentre. Time planning and management skills. Being accommodating of others especially those of different views and people with different personality traits.
TCF: What do you consider as your greatest achievement as telecentre manager?
Griffin: Being able to sustain Chwele Telecentre, albeit with limited resources, to remain operational to date. Working closely with CAMARA Foundation to expand Chwele Telecentre resulting to us getting 10 desktop computers, wall fans, and furniture as a donation to our telecentre. Providing employment opportunities to a computer application packages trainer and a woman secretary, plus helping others whom we have trained to secure job opportunities in other places because of the digital literacy acquired from Chwele Telecentre.
TCF: What are the rewards of being a telecentre manager? What motivates and inspires you to keep doing what you are doing for your telecentre and the community you serve?
Griffin: An opportunity to meet with people from diverse backgrounds sharing their experiences, aspirations and the challenges they go through, and to work out possible real life solutions for them. I’m motivated by my strong desire to serve the community in whatever capacity I may be called upon and the desire to empower the girl child and women in my community and beyond. I draw my inspiration from my fiancée Mercy Simiyu, who chose to go and teach in Lodwar- Kakuma, a harsh climate environment, leaving a comfort zone just to go and support the education foundation at St Leo High School Kakuma. I’m inspired by the First Lady of Kenya, Hon. Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta, with her Beyond Zero campaign initiative.
TCF: What are the major achievements of your telecentre?
Griffin: Having trained students, inclusive of women and girls, in the past and having a current class of 35 students. Providing information access and dissemination through our Internet services. Providing some job opportunities to the locals. Providing various e-services such as e-registration of exams, e-filing of tax returns, etc. to the community.
TCF: What impact has your telecentre made to the community you serve? How has it affected the lives of the people in your community? Cite a specific success story on how your telecentre has touched the life of a community member and share some photos, if available.
Griffin: We have made an impact through the following:
TCF: As telecentre manager, what are your future plans for your telecentre? What else would you like to achieve?
Griffin: I plan to start up a community library centre at Chwele town, since the large Bungoma County has no operational community library; to collaborate with institutions dealing with research in different areas in the country (particularly with agricultural research centers that could offer materials in agricultural areas specific for requirements of our zone in the country); to start up other telecentres in other areas so that users will not have to travel long distances to access the services and information they may require; to upgrade our bandwidth for faster Internet connectivity; and lastly, to build a social recreational centre for children and young folks in the community for mentorship programmes, talent development and community integration at Chwele.
TCF: What changes or improvements would you like to see in your community? What role would your telecentre play in bringing about that change?
Griffin: A well informed community, by purchasing daily newspapers to be found at the telecentre; and a socially integrated community, by organizing sports and games and talent development competitions and activities at different levels of the community to foster peace and unity in diversity.