Tag Archives: Africa

Extra Gear? Gifts for Sierra Leone

Gifts for Sierra Leone trip June-July 2017

My daughter Jessica and I will be visiting Families Without Borders in Sierra Leone next week with Terri Khonsari. If you have any extra laptops or smart phones we can bring – no matter how old or dead – the students will be delighted with your donation. Please contact me soon!

I have visited the inspiring and fascinating continent of Africa at least once a year since 2010. With TechWomen Delegations, I have been to Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa, plus participating in Delegations to Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa below the Sahara. With People to People, John and I visited Ethiopia. My only actual vacation in Africa was to Egypt in 2010 – a much longer trip than planned since our family was stranded there by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano.  This will be my first trip to West Africa.

I bring gifts on each trip for our generous hosts and for new friends and colleagues. For my first TechWomen Delegations, I had custom pencils made but more recently, I have brought San Francisco keychains and geeky pens and toys given away at events like the Grace Hopper Conference.  For this trip, I bought keychains, the Willow Glen Wells Fargo Bank branch gave me a big bag of red pens, and I am also bringing packages of stickers for the children.

However, the best present for the students in Sierra Leone would be empowerment and greater connection to the wider world.  Your outdated computer gear can help them.  I hope to hear from you!

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Image Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Filed under Home & Family, Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Sierra Leone Trip – Families Without Borders

Families Without Borders Gala 10 June 2017

Terri Khonsari, my daughter Jessica Dickinson Goodman, and I are traveling to Sierra Leone in a few weeks to visit the Families Without Borders school Terri manages in Makeni.  Jessica and I will be making technical and business presentations in Makeni and in Freetown. Terri and I are both long-time Mentors for the TechWomen program.  We have been discussing this trip for years.

More about Families Without Borders:

    We believe in building communities from within through education and empowerment of local youth. We begin by recruiting top students from disadvantaged families. We enroll them in a four year Bachelors Degree program of their choice complemented by a full servant leadership and personal development program. The program includes: advance computer skills, communication skills and financial management.

On Saturday, John, Matthew, Jessica and I joined TechWomen IdaRose Sylvester (with her husband Neil Hendin) and Samera Edwards at the Families Without Borders annual fundraising Gala. We enjoyed good company, good food, and good music. Jessica even learned some drumming.

Terri Khonsari Families Without Borders Gala 10 June 2017

Jessica Dickinson Goodman and John Plocher with drummers at Families Without Borders Gala 10 June 2017

Here are Hamid and Terri Khonsari with four TechWomen Fellows from Sierra Leone at the Families Without Borders Gala in 2015:

Hamid and Terri Khonsari with Sierra Leone TechWomen 2015

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Images Copyright 2015-2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Barbara Merrill in Tanzania

Barbara Merrill, Tanzania 2016 img_0080

Barbara Merrill describes herself in her email signature as a “Certified Ergonomist and A Very Good Friend” – and she is indeed both. Barbara is also a parishioner at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and a person with albinism (PWA).

In these last two capacities, Barbara celebrated her retirement by traveling to Tanzania to help albino children and their families. She worked with a Cerebral Palsy Clinic, visited the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Step by Step school and other schools in Arusha, participated in an Albinism Conference to educate village leaders in Ngorongoro Crater, and visited an Asante Miriamu Foundation clinic and children’s camp in Kigoma and Kabanga.

This month, Barbara gave a report to St. Andrew’s called “Trip to Tanzania” about her 5 November 2016 – 12 December 2016 travels. Some facts she presented about Tanzania:

  • 70% of the population is rural
  • Capital Dar es Salaam and Dodoma
  • 68% below poverty level
  • Large percentage of population under 15 years old Generally high birth rate about 5 per woman
  • High infant mortality rate – nutrition, early and frequent pregnancies, inadequate maternal health.
  • Tourism is about 20% of the Tanzanian Economy

One of the most interesting of her slides for me was called “Myths About Albinism”

  • PWAs are ghosts
  • Mother slept with a white man
  • They don’t die just fade away
  • Magical powers
  • PWAs are evil
  • Albinism a curse or punishment
  • PWAs have pink eyes
  • Albinism is contagious

Thanks to Barbara for her dedication, teaching, and great heart!

Barbara Merrill, Kabanga Camp, Tanzania 2016 img_0080

Barbara Merrill, Asante Miriamu Gates Tanzania, 2016 img_0084

Barbara Merrill Tanzania 2016 img_0066

Images Copyright Barbara Merrill 2016

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TechWomen 2016 Fellows – Next Steps

12 Certified Mentors TechWomen 2016 Fellows

The 90 TechWomen 2016 Fellows returned to their 19 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. After a very busy month in the San Francisco Bay Area and a week in Washington DC, they have been been reconnecting with home and family. Some of us mentors in the Silicon Valley have continued working remotely with our mentees since we last saw them in Washington DC.  Two groups with whom I have actively continued to work are Team Tunisia (the development group of six from Tunis, plus three TechWomen mentors), and the TechWomen 2016 Fellows who have become Certified Mentors with my company, Mentoring Standard.

Team Tunisia has met remotely twice already and is busily developing plans, branding, and social media for WAKTECH. WAKTECH will developing a software application plus community system to improve public transport in Tunis. Our team won one of the TechWomen Pitch Day seed grants last month and we are  now looking for additional sources of funding and support. While we were in Washington DC, Team Tunisia was able to meet His Excellency Fayçal Gouia, Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States. We brought along our TechWomen trophy to show him!

12 TechWomen 2016 Fellows have completed the submissions required to become Certified Mentors after returning home.  They have demonstrated that they hold the following three qualities:

  1. Significant Mentoring History.
  2. Good Reputation.
  3. Respectable Professional Experience.

Congratulations and welcome to:

Engy Abdalla Architect & Interior Designer, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Alexandria, Egypt
Yousra Anwar Abdelhady Independent Trainer, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Alexandria, Egypt
Chioma Hannah Ezedi Programmer, Abububakar Tafawa Balewa University, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Bauchi, Nigeria
Yelena Filipchik Sales Intelligence Manager, PepsiCo, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Almaty, Kazakhstan
Habsatou Nadia Project Engineer, Cameroon Telecommunication, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Yaounde, Cameroon
Kitio Tsamo Arielle Founder: WIT, Computer Science Lecturer Assistant: University of Yaounde 1, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Yaounde, Cameroon
Diana Hasan Nassar Product Manager: souq.com, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Amman, Jordan
Estelle Ndedi-Nzalli Computer Sciences Engineer, Information Technology Department,
Ingenieris, TechWomen 2016 Fellow
Yaounde, Cameroon
Dr. Francisca Onaolapo Oladipo Professor, Federal University Lokoja, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria
Gulshnar Salpykova IT Specialist, Transtelecom JSC, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Astana, Kazakhstan
Yomna Emad Saleh Business & Innovation Consultant: Innovety, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Cairo, Egypt
Nazira Sheraly CEO, Agroholding Jashyl Charba, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

I am very proud of all of them!  More information about each of these remarkable mentors is on Mentoring Standard’s Honor Roll.

TechWomen at the Smithsonian, Washington DC, October 2016

TechWomen Team Tunisia WAKTECH Washington DC, 14 October 2016

His Excellency Fayçal Gouia with TechWomen Team Tunisia at Ambassador's Reception, Washington DC, October 2016

12 Certified Mentors TechWomen 2016 Fellows

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Africa Wins!

Tunisia 2016 TechWomen with Impact Advisors

At yesterday’s TechWomen Community Event, all five Pitch Day seed grant prizes went to teams representing countries in Africa: Cameroon, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, and Kenya! All 19 presentations from Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa were so inspiring, I am sure the judges had a tough time deciding which to honor.  It was a pleasure to spend the evening with my daughter Jessica.

I am so very proud to have been one of the Impact Advisors for Tunisia! Our WAKTECH action plan to improve transportation in Tunis included six from Tunisia and three from the San Francisco Bay Area:

  • Melek Jebnoun- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Raoudha Lagha- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Salma Saidi- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Salma Sayah- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Sinda Soussia- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Yosr Tammar- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Fatema Kothari- California Mentor and Impact Advisor
  • Katy Dickinson- California Mentor and Impact Advisor
  • Mercedes Soria- California Mentor and Impact Advisor

Early tomorrow, TechWomen shifts from the San Francisco Bay Area to Washington DC. What a month this has been!

Sierra Leone 2016 TechWomen

Tunisia 2016 TechWomen

TechWomen 2016 Flag Parade

Arezoo Riahi 2016 TechWomen Seed Grants

Cameroon 2016 TechWomen

TechWomen 2016 Seed Grant Award

Gaza Sky Geeks Impact Photo

Tunisia TechWomen 2016 Impact Advisors

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Advising 6 TechWomen from Tunisia

TechWomen 2016 Tunisia Impact Advisory Group at Pitch Day 7 Oct 2016

Since August 2016, I have been honored to be one of three Impact Advisors to the six TechWomen Emerging Leaders from Tunisia. We started meeting while the ELs were still in Tunis and we have continued our discussions at least weekly since. Mercedes Soria (Vice President of Software Engineering, Knightscope), Fatema Kothari (Senior Consultant,
T-Mobile), and I have had a wonderful time working on this.

On 7 October, the ladies presented our plan for WAKTECH at the TechWomen Pitch Day hosted by Oracle here in the Silicon Valley. This is the Executive Summary for WAKTECH, from our Action Plan:

The biggest public transport issue in Tunis is delay. Bus and metro schedules are confusing and unreliable. What makes this issue worse is the lack of total absence of online and offline information about these delays. Users are deprived from real time information about it. WAKTECH will be the first mobile platform to centralize the information about public transportation in Tunisia. It will provide all the needed information about traffic, schedule and transit itinerary. The particularity of this application resides in the community of trusted users who will be its main source of data.

We will be building an application that enables users to share information about public transit like departure and arrival times or possible incidents. Based on that data, the users can access at any moment that information to schedule their trip, be on time, and save money. Using WAKTECH will help create the smart Tunis everyone is dreaming of where technology serves the citizens to manage their time effectively and create a community of responsible users.

Our Tunisia team was one of 19 that presented – one from each of the TechWomen countries. I was so proud of their poised and professional presentation! Tonight at the TechWomen Community Celebration in San Francisco we will hear the results of the pitch judging – only five teams will win one of the cash prizes. There were many superb presentations and inspiring projects proposed for Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Wish us luck!

TechWomen Barbara Williams and Katy Dickinson 7 Oct 2016

TechWomen Stay Fearless - by Fatema Kothari

Tunisia 2016 TechWomen waiting to pitch 7 Oct 2016

Mentoring Standard Conducktors for Tunisia 2016 TechWomen

TechWomen 2016 Tunisia WAKTECH presentation at Pitch Day 7 Oct 2016

Crows at Oracle, Redwood Shores CA

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen Mail

Katy Dickinson and Janet Fofang Hopper Conference 2015

The TechWomen mentoring program participants often travel among our 21 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.   On our journeys, mentors and mentees often bring each other things, calling such deliveries “TechWomen Mail”. Sometimes the generous TechWomen carry local treats (like cookies or honey), or souvenirs from their country (like pen holders or coffee mugs).  Earlier this year, a traveling mentor bought a rug in the souq only to find it too big for her luggage.  In the next few months, I am sure that rug will arrive in the Silicon Valley with a visiting TechWoman.

Souvenirs from Egypt and Lebanon, coffee and pen cups

Since I would be seeing the Cameroon “Angels Tech of Africa” Technovation team in San Francisco, Janet Fofang (TechWomen 2013 Fellow) asked me to send her some electronics to use when teaching her Tassah Academy or WeTech girls in Yaounde, Cameroon. My husband, John Plocher, put together a box of interesting electronic boards and chips for exploration. Dorothée Danedjo Fouba  (TechWomen 2014 Fellow) kindly agreed to carry the box to Janet. I left the box loosely packed and openable so that Dorothée and customs inspectors could see what it contained – I am sure it looked odd on airport scanners.

This week, Janet wrote me that the box had arrived safely. (Thanks to Dorothée!) Janet and John are now in email discussions about what was in the box, and about software and hardware open source projects he has published on our family website, spcoast.com. We may have more TechWomen Mail headed to Cameroon soon!

Teaching Materials - Electronic Parts July 2016

Cameroon Technovation Team with Katy Dickinson and Tara Chklovski 2016

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Images Copyright 2015-2016 by Katy Dickinson

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