The SEMOA Malaysia Easter Follow-up Deployment

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
Trip End Dec 31, 2016

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Flag of Malaysia  , Pahang,
Saturday, April 19, 2014

Last November, 2013 I attended the Asia Pacific Base Camp OLPC 2.0  “The Journey Forward” conference in Malaysia. The organizer, TK Kang lives and works in Hong Kong. But he was born and raised in Malacca, Malaysia and has a soft spot for Malaysia and its children in his heart. TK has been working with XO projects in Hong Kong for several years. He has also been working with his Malacca high school classmates to orchestrate a gift of brand new, fast, rugged, low power XO-1.75s for a project sponsored by a non-profit called SEMOA.

SEMOA = Stategic Education Methods & Ongoing Advancement. is a non-profit charitable NGO whose mission is to improve the plight of the Orang Asli, the original Malaysian aboriginal people. There are 18 tribes and traditionally these lovely people are traditionally jungle hunters & gatherers.  Their non Muslim religion deprives this population of many services and education opportunities and SEMOA’s goal is to improve the plight of these people by encouraging education for the children.

In November, 20 XOs were donated to The SEMOA Farm, a children’s project in Raub, Malaysia. I was privileged to visit and to see the children when they saw the XO laptops for the first time. The Farm is a residential campus for about 40 children currently in residence, ages 5-17. Most of the children come from their rainforest villages far away so that they can go to school. Some have only one parent, or none, or are from families that can’t care for them. Others have parents who want their children to have the opportunity to study and to succeed in school.  The children study in the local government Chinese school and learn Mandarin in addition to other subjects. This project sets a lovely example of what a well organized non profit can do to change children’s lives.

TK’s Malacca high school colleagues are getting excited about this project. TK says that his own class of U6Sc5 Malacca High School (MHS),1976 is comprised of brilliant teachers, principals, and academics among others. With enthusiasm & continued logistical support from retired pharmacist, Yong Seng, and donations and support from U6Sc5 classmates, and other schoolmates of MHS 1976, 40 XOs were physically delivered to the SEMOA farm/hostel. With extra financial support from Victoria Ho Tso, additional XO’s have been purchased so that a mobile Open Learning Chest consisting of 10 XOs, and an XO powered schoolserver could be deployed to other new sites. At the "mobile" sites, the laptops are shared and each child who participates will have an 8G SD card to boot Sugar into the XO! This creates a portable model where the child's work and projects can be saved and then opened for more work, on any XO laptop, when the mobile deployment (XO courier) visits the site again. With this "flipped OLPC model of deployment".we were able to start projects in 2 new sites and reach more children.
Thanks You Malacca High School Class of 1976! What a generous gift this group has made!

After teacher training sessions and some planning, the children began using the XOs in February, 2014. This week, in April 2014, OLPC Asia volunteers Victoria Tso,TK Kang, Haggan So, Weida Zhang, Georgette Tso and Kevin Poon traveled together from Hong Kong to Malaysia to deliver the new XOs and to do some more teaching. They called it the Easter Mobile Open Learning Chest (mOLC) Deployment. Kevin and TK have been posting the story of this week’s work on Facebook, and I have taken the photos you see here from there. Thank you Kevin for sharing this most wonderful story in pictures!

At the SEMOA Farm, Georgette conducted a session using newly loaded videos s to talk about environmental issues including pollution and global warming. You’ll see the SEMOA Farm kids creating graphic designs with an Activity (App) called Turtle Art. Originated at MIT (Massachusetts Institute for Technology) in Cambridge, Turtle Art teaches children basic Logo computer programming skills. Using commands like, forward, back, right, left, arc, pen up, pen down, repeat etc., the children program the Turtle to draw pictures. Since English is not the first language of the Orang Asli kids, to use this program, the children must first learn the English words for the commands. You can imagine how stunned and impressed I am to see what the SEMOA kids are doing with their XOs!

XOs were next bought to a second site. After SEMOA, The Volunteer Team visited The Kuala Gandah Elephant Orphanage Sanctuary and posted some photos from there also. This is the second elephant sanctuary in the world that we know of that has XOs for the kids living there. Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary, in rural Si Satchenalai Thailand also has XOs for computer learning opportunities for the children there.

Another day, another deployment.... The third site this trip was with the Semelai people at Kampung Bukit Rok. This was the first time that these kids ever laid their little hands on the XO laptops. It was a very interesting experience to witness how kids react and learn from the XO laptops.

The last day was to be busy too. "While we have finished all 3 site visits, the work is far from over. The technical team must troubleshoot the school server issues at the SEMOA site." They will be going back to SEMOA to iron out issues with the school server that has been installed.

At the week's conclusion, TK writes: "We hope Malaysian volunteers will move things ahead with some continuity. They will be the first to deploy a basic mOLC . The idea of the mOLC chest is here:
We hope to spark some local educational initiatives. Ms Joyce Tay will be the U6Sc5-76 class representative that will manage/monitors its usage. Thanks to Victoria Ho Tso we have made this a reality in Malaysia for local eduvolunteers there. This "giving chest" is beautifully illustrated by Loretta Chang in this slide presentation:

TK says: huge thanks all who helped make the week a success. "Again we could do so much because we had the wonderful 7 star hotels for resting and our preparation work, sponsored by Victoria and Kelvin. Plus easy and comfortable transportation shuttles to all of the various sites:-)"

I could not go back to Asia this month, to join my friends on this trip. I share this entry for dual purposes. Our OLPC Volunteer Contributors Program is seeding a new XO-1 Project in Haiti, soon. The Haiti Hope Quilt Project is a non-profit philanthropic group that has been working to establish a self-sustaining sewing cooperative in Bois D'Avril, Haiti for several years. Community members there have been provided treadle sewing machines and were taught to sew, making quilts that are beautiful, useful and marketable. Most recently, this group has supported the renovation of a small elementary school and a full-time schoolteacher has been employed.  

This new Haiti XO Project objective is to teach local elementary school children who attend the small mountain village school (it has no electricity or running water), basic skills in the operation of computers (including beginning with basic keyboard skills) that will eventually enable them to access and use Internet-based educational programs. The computers will be used for math skills, language development, English speaking skills, as well as skills communicating in Spanish, French, and Creole.

A stated goal is for the Haitian children to learn to use the computers to design quilts that can be produced by the villagers in the self-sustaining sign cooperative.

Today I saw Kevin’s photos from Malaysia and I thought, this is perfect. The pictures of what the SEMOA kids are doing with Turtle Art, make it easy to visualize the possibilities for quilt design by rural mountain Haitian children also using Turtle Art. By sharing the photos here, the newest Haiti group and other XO projects can see what's happening in Malaysia, and maybe get some good ideas.

And by sharing photos from the first time experiences of children in Malaysia, people introducing XOs at other sites around the country or around the world can find good resources and ideas. When some of us started we were all "inventing the same wheel (and sometimes, it was a flat tire.:) The OLPC Global Volunteer Community has learned that when we share ideas, collaborate and work together, success comes more quickly!

Congratulations & thanks to Victoria, Georgette, TK, Haggen, Weida, and Kevin on a successful “Easter” endeavor! Photo credits to the participants. I hope you enjoy this entry. As always, the story is in the pictures!

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Elaine Negroponte on

I got a nice laugh out of the child asking, "How do you open this thing."
In the beginning I needed to take someone with me to open the xo whenever
I was trying to talk about it to a Minister or other educational hopefuls.


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