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 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. To 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. Residents 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.
*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.