- How was the Porto Seguro Project born?
The project started thanks to Luigi Pertici, a Catholical Permanet Deacon from Siena, Italy. He worked at Monte dei Paschi Bank's Datacenter for long time until he switched to work as IT Engineer in the Bank's Training Center doing end-to-end support, system administration and so on. In 1998 he knew a togolese priest who talked him about his country and then, in 2005, Luigi went for his first time in Togo. From 2005 Luigi visits Togo regularly to help the Aneho's Diocese and in particular the village called Agbodrafò which has almost 4000/6000 inhabitant. It's not possible to know exactly the actual living population there due to lack of a well managed registry office. Since 2007, when Luigi retired from his work at bank, he spend 4/5 months in a year in Agbodrafò. The project is called Porto Seguro because this is the ancient portuguese name of Agbodrafò.
- What is the mission of your organisation?
The project is trying to bring information's media in the village of Agbodrafò. At moment the newspaper is the only media and it's very rare; you can found it only in the capital but not everyday. The basical idea is to set up an Internet Point available for everybody but mainly focused for the high school's students. Agbodrafò's high school counts about 200 students.
- Can you give us a few examples of what you have done?
With the help of my friends from Siena Linux User Group we gather old computers from friends and acquaintances. Lug's volunteers buit fully functioning computers getting spare parts from partialy working computers and installing Ubuntu. At the end of the work they made a shipment with a lot of material: fully functioning Computer were 36 with a lot of extra spare parts like monitors, mice, cables, hard disks, keyboards, etc.
- Did you also use other linux distros?
At moment we used just Ubuntu (and derivates). In the future we would like to create a small Lab where to teach how to customize a distros and also how to build one from Scratch.
- Did you also use proprietary software?
No, we use only Free Software. Our educational goal is to make people learn how to choose things with their head and we can't use proprietary software because in proprietary software the software house decided for you. We're trying to change the habit of having everythings chosen by someone else. This habit in Togo depends from deep-rooted cultural factors and that's why this is an educational project.
- What do you suggest that should be done in Ubuntu to better match your needs?
I would like to have more documentation and support for old hardware. For example I had problems with scanners. We use scanners a lot because it can do copies of a document thanks to a printer. In the entire village there's just 3 Photocopier and they sometimes don't works. Also the offline resources should be improved. The offline version of ubuntu-it wiki is a great idea. Before any travel I spend a lot of time copying into an external hard drive everythings I would need like documents, ISOs and packages.
- What is the biggest difficulty you encountered with Ubuntu?
Scanner configuration and the old hardware in general.
- and what do you think is the best trick you learned along the way?
Use 3 partitions: root, swap and home. Having my documents in home avoids data losing when I re-install the operative system over my previous installation.
Photos and stories
- Ask if there's particular anecdotes, good or funny stories, best lessons that reporter would like to tell to the world.
In 2007 I took some pictures of children in a school. In one of them I got a child playing with a toy he built by hisself. In the next trip in Africa I showed the pic to the parish priest asking if he would know that child. He said that he knew him and he was a 10 years old child called Ako. I asked to the priest if I could see him again. After some days he came in front of me while I was deassembling 3 pcs to make at least 1 of them working. I asked the child his surname and he said something I can't understand. I gave him my laptop and I said to him to write his name. He started looking at the laptop and at the keyboard. After a while he slowly wrote his surname in the keyboard. Then I asked him: Have you ever seen a computer before? He said: NO. I was surprised and I came back to my work fixing the PCs. The child was looking at me playing with a screw when I asked him if he liked the work I was doing. He answered YES and I gave him one of the three PCs asking to disassemble it. In a short time, with just few advices, the child was able to completly disassemble the pc without broking anythings... and it was the first time Ako saw a pc in his life!
Name of reporter: Luigi Pertici <luigiATpertici.net>
Name of NGO: Onlus Progetto Porto Seguro (still forming)
Location (city, country): Agbodrafò (Togo)
Web Link: Original interview (in Italian)