A terrific report from our Ugandan hackerspace from our friends at Just Cause Uganda!

There were drones, there were robots, videography, photography, interviews, demos, teaching, learning and a whole lot of fun! A day that none of us will forget!

Emma from Malaika Media in Kampala was the person we reached out to that got back to us and helped us with the missing drone parts last week. (This surprised us as it was!) While we were at his office, we invited him to come visit the students, see their diy drone & robotics projects and check out the Hackerspace where we run our programs….and asked for a flying lesson before the students tried on their own! He was actually interested and even offered to bring his professional drone to let the kids fly it for practice and a media crew to document their story! He said it depended on his schedule and we weren’t sure how serious he was… But Saturday night, he messaged us and as it turned out, he was serious and Sunday afternoon was amazing for all of us!

Emma shared his experience with us and let the students fly his Phantom 4 all over the Hackerspace! We were nervous at first because it’s a professional drone and very valuable annnnd these are kids…. with no experience… We were kind of shocked that he just handed the controls over to them with confidence after brief instructions. They had no problem catching on and were airborne almost instantly! All we could say while seeing this go down was “OMG this is actually happening right now!” (It’s pretty impressive to watch this thing fly)

Watching Emma interact with the team and seeing their faces as they listenex to him and then got to take flight was just amazing for us to sit back and watch. Many of the students took an interest in the sweet camera and video equipment that Michael from Malaika Media was using to shoot the scene and got to ask him lots of questions and check out his gear too. Also very cool for them as it was some very new high tech equipment they had never seen! Double win!

So the day was what we have been striving to find to give to our students – authentic experiences, real people, and skilled mentorship, from Ugandan role models and professionals. We want to see them both encouraged and inspired. It’s just so difficult to find here, so this connection gave far beyond a drone flight!

Emma and his crew took interviews with many of the students and us. They listened and documentated the story of Just Cause Education Outreach and the individual journies of our students over the last 3 years with our programs and with the Hackerspace. We shared the connection between our organization, Johnny and Hacker’s For Charity and how together we’ve been able to empower kids with technology programs both in the Hackerspace and outside in the surrounding regions – places where youth have minimal/no exposure to technology and how it can help them reach new potential and futures. We know that all the youth here really need is access and opportunity and they have the interest, drive and talent to develop tremendous skills in STEAM fields. They want to learn and are very aware that tech can leapfrog development in their country.

It was moving to see the kids have the chance to use their voice and we were so proud at the things they spoke about during their interviews. (Of course we were eavesdropping the whole time) Blessing was great at getting the kids to speak freely!

Some of the things we heard were along these lines:

What does technology mean to you?

“It means a better future with skills that I can use to get a job or start a business”

“I’m not interested in football like most so for me technology means my passion”

“Technology will mean progress for my country and the ideas I can create come from it”

What is your message to girls your age with technology?

“That we need them to be involved”

“They have very many ideas”

Why do you like working with this type of equipment/place?

“Because it makes me think and I get to use topics I learn in science and math classes”

“This place gives us opportunities and skills that we can’t learn in our regular school”

It’s not often that those students with a passion for technology get the chance to shine and have a captive audience who can “talk shop” so this was a very special day. They asked tonnes of questions about drones and how to approach their project that actually by the end of the day meant they could actually get their quadcopter project in motion! What a great day!

They also got to show off their current projects with robots and app development. While they continued flying Emma’s drone around, Emma was absorbed in driving their VEX bot around the place. It was a fun exchange to watch!

Malaika Media is going to produce a video from the interviews and footage they took during the visit and share the photos with us so we can share our story in a way we haven’t before! We are so proud of the kids and very thankful to Emma, Blessing and Michael for their time and mentorship and for coming all the way to Jinja to hang out with us! We still can’t believe our luck in this connection with these awesome people!