The little kid that could

Two of our son’s friends, Sameer and Anish,  are working with laptops in a small Indian village. This is a report from Sameer’s blog that I thought you might enjoy.

This is Sumit, a little kid who lives next door from us in Bhagmalpur. I took this picture casually, as I walked the streets of the village back in 2003. I was amused by the tripod of a walker. It’s locally made, probably bought at the local faire, and it works well for what it’s supposed to do. It’s not something you’d find at your local Toys R Us, but then again, if you did, it would be in the retro throwback section, and would cost you a fortune!

Sumit and his tripodSumit and his tripod, circa 2003

Coming back to Sumit, I saw him again in January 2013. I didn’t know his name was Sumit, or he was the same kid in the picture! He showed a lot of interest in the XOs, the repair sessions, the reflashing, and installing new software. I asked him to help me with some minor tasks, like running a command, but he wanted to know the “why and how” of it. So, I explained to him how the datastore backup happens, and why it takes a random window of 30 minutes to backup (those who know ds-backup would know!). He was curious. He wanted to learn. This was surely not in his curriculum! Nor in a lesson plan! He had gotten the bug of curiosity, and that’s something I can relate to.

Eventually, Sumit helped me with installation, backup, running Python scripts, bash commands, rsync and such. He did a site survey of the village and helped us with installing the Wi-Fi access points. He took apart his XO laptop, repaired a WiFi antenna cable that had popped out, and put things back together. He learned how to access the server, install new Sugar activities, install the Hindi Wikipedia bundle, browse for a ton of offline TED talks, books and music, all  locally hosted on the server. In fact, given that I had a very short window to get a lot done, he became my point of distribution of information to the rest of the kids – a student assistant of sorts, and a fine one at that :-) Then, one day, he told me that the photo of the kid with a tripod was really him! How cool is that?!

Sumit helping with a Wi-Fi site surveySumit helping with a Wi-Fi site survey

Sumit repairing by flashlightSumit repairing by flashlight – we had no electricity.

Could any of this be possible, if we didn’t have OLPC laptops there? Probably not. The local private and parochial schools have “computer classes” where the computer is always broken, and the teacher never shows up, and the parents still pay for all that’s not delivered. A little green laptop is making a difference where it matters…and Sumit is the little kid that could.

sumit-2013Sumit repairing a broken screen, circa 2013

*****
I’m hoping for updates in the years ahead. Imagine Sumit in 2020!

Read more: http://bhagmalpur.wordpress.com/

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About fromourisland

Gardener, knitter, wife, mother of 2, grandmother, and lots more.
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5 Responses to The little kid that could

  1. Alice Jordon says:

    Yes, how cool is that! 🙂

  2. Claudia says:

    This is such a wonderful story. That little Sumit with the walker has turned into a computer whiz!
    Thanks for this smile on a Sunday morning and thank you for joining in this week.

    xo
    Claudia

  3. Mary Waind says:

    Awesome, Marie. Love that he IS able.

  4. Sally says:

    Oh! I love this post! How wonderful to eventually meet the subject of his photo, ten years in the future. And what a delight Sumit is!

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