Using Wikis to Rebuild Cultures in Northern Uganda

This month, we want to introduce you to BOSCO, an organization using wikis and technology to help give the isolated and war-affected people of Northern Uganda a voice in the global community. bosco-uganda-2BOSCO was founded three years ago by Gus Zuehlke, a Catholic minister from Indiana, after he visited several Internally Displaced Persons camps in Northern Uganda. These individuals were cut off from an increasingly connected world, which hampered their ability to build a prosperous future for themselves. BOSCO is training them to use technology to tell their stories, articulate the problems they face, design solutions for these problems, and invite global collaborators to help.

With the support of organizations like HorizonT3000, UNICEF, Inveneo, the University of Notre Dame and Wikispaces, BOSCO overcame initial logistical problems and got their organization operating on the ground. bosco-uganda-1To start, they trained a small group to use collaborative technology. BOSCO’s Kevin Bailey describes their training process as throwing the traditional ICT curriculum out the window. “The first thing we do is get them on email, then we let them navigate our simple Intranet site which connects all BOSCO sites to a high speed internal network, useful for posting photos, blogs, and other educational content. After these groups gain competence navigating the web, we point them in the direction of our BOSCO Wikispace so that they can begin collaborating immediately.” According to Kevin, “Collaboration between previously isolated communities can help them reconcile with each other, share information, and articulate local solutions to community problems.” Because Wikispaces was so easy to use, even kids who had never seen a computer before were able to get on their wiki and share their stories.

BOSCO is now in 20 different locations and 8 Internally Displaced Persons camps in Northern Uganda. And the group they initially trained is training others. bosco-uganda-3Residents in the region are posting their stories and are beginning to use the wiki to articulate solutions for their problems. These solutions include proposals for a local farming initiative, an orphan’s group, and a small music festival.

Tom Loughran, the Vice President of BOSCO and a professor at Notre Dame, is very pleased with his choice to use Wikispaces. He had used Wikispaces in his college courses, seen his students jump into it without any training, and recognized its flexibility for his work in Uganda. The service offered by Wikispaces was also an important factor. “The support and encouragement BOSCO has received from Wikispaces has been a big boost for us during these very early days of our pilot efforts.”

BOSCO is growing as more people in the Ugandan villages are trained to use the technology and more people in the global community hear their stories. We encourage you to visit their website and see their wikis yourself. We’ve provided a set of links below to get you started.

Visit BOSCO’s Wikispaces Private Label site
Read stories by a Northern Ugandan
Learn about their cultural preservation music festival
Check out their proposal for a local farming cooperative


*Photos in this post are from BOSCO-Uganda’s Wikispaces Private Label site and are shared under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License.

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10 Comments

  1. Ginny
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Dear Sarah,
    What a great example of a wikispace in action!
    Seeing sites like BOSCO and how they shared information about their project helps encourage others to use a wiki.
    It is exciting to see how effectively information on a project can be shared with a community or the world. (The pictures were amazing!)
    Thanks for sharing this with us!
    Ginny

  2. Posted September 28, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I am new to wikispaces, as I was encouraged by a colleague to make my own wikispace for my students.

    I have had the great fortune of spending the last 3 summers, working with an amazing group of teachers in Northern Uganda. The Acholi people of Northern Uganda are amazing and funny and kind. Through that work I have met Aliker David Martin, who is now working with Bosco.

    This is an incredible group and I would encourage all who read this to take a moment and do whatever you can to support their cause.

    For myself, I will be using wikispaces to teach Algebra, PreCalculus, and Statistics, and next summer I will head back to northern Uganda to teach mathematics there.

    John Magee
    jmagee@nerinxhs.org

  3. Posted September 29, 2009 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    It is so nice to see technology giving a “voice” to the forgotten and downtrodden. A great opportunity to hear from the people of Northern Uganda. Some many stories that are left untold. Now this is a great chance to hear those stories. This is the best use of wikis I have ever seen. I am going to share this story with my students.

    Thank you,

    John Dolan

  4. Posted September 30, 2009 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    What I wonderful thing! I would love it if they would write to my students using our class wiki. Would this be possible? You are all in my prayers.

    Mrs. Sharon Padget
    Ottumwa High School
    Ottumwa Iowa
    United States

  5. Mrs K
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Such a great way to use educational media and technology. Keep up the good work. I am sharing this with my fellow EMDT students.

  6. Philip
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    It is indeed a great idea for all to be exposed to new technologies. Social networking is an aspect of out society taht can bring people and countries together. Well done!!

  7. akpofure omose
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    i am a lawyer who has considered your project and find it excellent and will like to havea holistic documents and proposals so i can commence same for oil displaced communities in war areas of the niger-deltan.we can achieve this by the approach and support that will drive it in my locality in nigeria.plese i will want your response.thank you

  8. Amy
    Posted October 16, 2009 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    One way globalization actually benefits the everyday person! This is a brilliant idea — a fine example of innovation that helps override the digital divide. Thank you BOSCO!

  9. walusimbi philip
    Posted October 16, 2009 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Bosco is a good project for rural communities

    weel done

  10. Posted October 17, 2009 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    le peuple d´Uganda a trouvé d´une faÇon créative une bonne solution a sa problematique.

    El pueblo de Uganda ha encontrado una solución creativa a su problemática.Éstas aplicaciones de wikis deberían implementarse especialmente en países de similares caractéristicas.

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