ChildFund Netbook Project Helps Brazil’s Children

by Ron Wolfe, ChildFund Business Development Specialist

Editor’s Note: A ChildFund team is working in Brazil for several weeks to carry out two pilot projects with netbook technology. We’ll be hearing from the team regularly.

It’s 10 a.m. and I’m driving through the cerrado in Minas Gerias, Brazil, one of the most biologically diverse savannas in the world. As we travel higher and higher, though, the landscape becomes starker and less hospitable until, off in the distance, we spot the town of Diamantina, clinging to a hill and falling off toward a valley. A beautiful example of colonial architecture, the UNESCO World Heritage Site certainly lives up to its name — translated in English as “diamond.”

I am here to participate in two pilot projects with our Brazil National Office to test the use of netbooks at the local level as a tool for streamlining ChildFund’s current sponsorship processes. We are collaborating with NetHope and partner companies Intel and Agilix on these projects.

Ron Wolfe

The first pilot is taking place here in Diamantina, where we’ll use netbooks to assist with collection of data on children who are sponsored and enrolled in ChildFund programs in the area. This pilot is called CPR/CSI, since we will use both the Child Progress Report and the Child Status Index – a broad measurement of a child’s well-being within six categories – to capture data on a selected group of children.

ChildFund’s community mobilizers will initially use the netbooks for a CSI training session, learning the theory behind the index and then practicing case study evaluation. Our staff developed all training materials using a software program called BrainHoney, which allows remote users to train on preloaded modules and then send assessment results or ask questions via the Internet. When their training is complete, community mobilizers will then use the netbooks to efficiently collect data during visits to children’s homes.

The second pilot project will be deployed in two locations — in Vespasiano, an urban setting outside Belo Horizonte, and in Turmalina, a rural community 150 kilometers from Diamantina.  In both settings, the goal is to use the netbooks to deliver educational lessons to the children at a ChildFund community gathering, and to streamline sponsorship administration by electronically collecting enrollment updates and facilitating letter writing to sponsors.

Once again, we’ll use the netbooks to train community mobilizers and facilitators on how to plan community activities and deliver ChildFund-designed lesson plans to the children. As part of the lesson plan, children will produce art, plays and music that we will electronically scan or videotape.

Everyone on the ChildFund team is excited to test these innovative solutions with our partners in the United States and Brazil and, ultimately, to enhance children’s learning opportunities.

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