Originally, our vision centered on computer training labs connected to existing schools in East Africa. This was a decent enough model, but it had it’s limitations. The labs were expensive, they only served one body of students, and the community at large was excluded.
Now, we’re focusing instead on community centers. Our first center is now open. It is located on Lubas road in Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.
Unlike a classroom connected to an existing school, our community centers are open to the public as well as to schools who wish to time-share for their students.
What’s the goal of the center?
In poverty-stricken parts of the world, it’s no secret that job training is key to interrupting the cycle of poverty. Most job training programs focus on local trades: tailoring, wood working, farming, etc. However, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an overlooked and understaffed job market, especially in underdeveloped countries where computers and technology trainers are scarce. But in many underdeveloped countries, like Uganda, the market for qualified ICT staff is set to explode thanks to broadband initiatives like the fiber lines running from Mombasa which has already reached downtown Jinja, the site of our center.
With the stage set for a new job market, our goal is to provide world-class training of all levels to those that could not normally afford it. Since this is a non-profit community-based venture funded by outside projects (such as our Internet cafe and restaurant), our pricing model is extremely aggressive. Since most locals can afford to spend time in Internet cafes at a rate of 60 to 75 cents per hour, our pricing starts at only 50 cents per hour. We also offer scholarships to driven, dedicated individuals that can not afford this rate. This provides hands-on computer experience which sets our users apart from even ICT university graduates, most of whom have never touched a computer during their studies.
We also provide training in the form of video-based CBT’s and course materials. Video-based training allows students to take training at their own pace, and helps us keep costs down since we do not have to hire instructors. Unlike typical training business which can charge several months salary for a single course, we never charge for training. Students only pay for computer usage time, whether they access our training resources or not.
What training is provided?
Our e-book library gives students access to thousands of electronic computer reference and training books which litter our shelves in the West but are not available in most countries in Africa. We offer video training and certificate courses in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and many other commonly used software packages. We also offer international certification courses found nowhere else in Uganda including CISCO INTRO and ICND, CISSP, Network+, Certified Ethical Hacking, and Mile2’s certifications which cover penetration testing, wireless, secure coding, computer forensics and more. Armed with these internationally-recognized certifications, our students can land jobs located (virtually or physically) anywhere in the world.
Our course material is donated from generous private and corporate donors and due to bandwidth limitations, all content is stored locally on our servers within the center. Contact us if you are interested in donating content to our training center, or use the donation form to the right to make a financial donation.
Our current donors include:
Michael Gregg of Superior Solutions, Inc donated a huge box of his highly-regarded certification test prep books and video-based training based on the CISSP, and other world-renown certifications.This donation retails for several hundred US dollars.
The folks at Mile2 were gracious enough to donate their entire course library to our efforts, a donation retailing for thousands of dollars. We are working to integrate these excellent certification courses into our curriculum.
Peter over at The Academy was kind enough to donate his entire library of training videos! These videos cover all sorts of amazing system administration, security and networking topics in very cool bite-sized video chunks.
Lynda.com donated ten CD’s of their training material including Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007 Essentials, Excel 2003 and 2007 Essentials, PowerPoint 2003 and 2007 Essentials, Access 2003 and 2007 Essentials, Windows XP Essentials and Windows Vista Essential, a donation retailing for approximately $500 US.
Total training provided us with a discount on a large training purchase, which included their Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master collection and Advanced Design Bundle. The discount saved us approximately $250.
Laura Chappell donated 75 copies of her Master Library, covering some awesome network and protocol analysis topics. The set retails for thousands of dollars.
The GCF offers some pretty slick training in lots of computer-related topics, and it’s all FREE! It’s really great stuff. One of our volunteers in the US was kind enough to send a DVD of their courses.
Pirates for Charity?
The companies and individuals listed above have provided express consent for us to use some of their training in our center. However, thanks to various donors, we are in possession of tens of GB worth of training material, some of which was obviously downloaded from the Internet (torrents, RapidShare, etc).
This puts us in an interesting predicament. The “Robin Hood” in our hacker brain loves the idea of using this stuff in a non-profit capacity to help some of the poorest people in the world find gainful employment in ICT. The Christian (Johnny) / Non-Profit (HFC) / Conservative (Johnny again) side of us feels as though it’s wrong on some moral / ethical / legal way.
The justifications are plentiful:
- There are no laws against pirating in Uganda (yet) so it’s OK.
- Johnny’s an American, so it’s a crime, so it’s not OK.
- The content was donated, not directly downloaded or purchased, so it’s not really even pirating (so it’s really OK).
- It’s to help poor people, so it’s OK.
- Johnny should wear his hacker / Christian hat so it’s OK / Not OK.
- The courses aren’t being sold, and the use of them is free, so it’s OK and OK.
- If training companies found out you used their stuff in this manner, they would never partner with you legitimately, so it’s not OK.
- If training companies found out you used their stuff in this manner, they might see a new charitable / humanitarian / life-changing use for their product they had never thought of and partner with you anyway, and make their competitors look like self-absorbed in-it-for-the-money mavens so it’s OK (the partnering part, not the making your competition look bad, which is borderline).
- Etc, etc, ETC, so it’s Ok, not ok, OK!
Even our most faithful / fervent / spiritual / l33t supporters are aggressively split on the issue, so we’re not sure what to do.
All we know is that people are lining up to get into our center and we’re at capacity. Each one is desperately seeking training so they can get a good job and pull their families and villages out of abject poverty. They’re psyched about web design, graphic design, music, programming, networking and more… bit-heads that are soaking up an education that their university-educated peers have never had access to. And to feed that hunger and really mke a difference we need lots more content… much more than we have legitimately.
We tried our hand at approaching one of these companies requesting that they allow the use of this donated content in a non-profit capacity in our center in Uganda and they refused, encouraging us to “remember that great things are achieved by hard work and dedication” and letting us know that “[we] will only hurt [our] cause and those [we] are trying to help by taking shortcuts or engaging in activities which are illegal or unethical”. I will leave the story there, because revealing more about the story will reveal more than we want to about that company. But suffice it to say that the end result of taking the “high” road was a rather staggering “loss” of content.
The more I thought about that situation, the more I realized the futility of approaching training companies in search of partnerships and donations. I mean, look at us, we’re just a bunch of shady, good-for-nothing, bright (but often misguided) hackers. So what does that mean? Just because we’re hackers, does that mean we can just blaze ahead, set our (not Uganda-based) OC-768 bit-pipes to full suck mode and SITERIP every commercial training site at a glorious 50Mbps?
I don’t think so. We’re about more than helping and training the poor. We’re about showing the world there’s more to hackers than meets the eye. So we have to have a higher standard, methinks.
But indecision means we lose training content because we can’t afford to buy everything we need. As it is, we’re on a shoestring budget with every penny going directly to our work.
If it was just me, I’d let it rip. I’d use the content and do some good with it. But as an organization, we’ll take a lot of heat and scare off potential donors if I just use the stuff.
So about that header, “Pirating for Charities”. I’m trying to draw attention to our plea. Is there a company out there that will come along side us in our quest to educate and empower the hungry here in East Africa? We’d love to see this training spread to other areas around the world, not just in Africa, but in the poorest sections of the US, Great Britain, Asia and more. Even Greenland. (Yes, there are 57,600 people in Greenland. Guess how many training centers they have? Like one, in an expensive hotel, with 8 stations.)
Below you will find a list of the content that has been donated to us. If this content is yours, and like the first company we approached you want us to delete the content, we will…and we will never again darken your door with the plight of the poor. If, however, you want to help, contact us and allow us to use the content we’ve “inherited” here in Uganda, and perhaps allow us to use other content as well. It would make a real difference.
We’re going to hope that someone will come alongside of us and provide us with training content so that we can erase all the borrowed content and go fully “legit”. We’re determined that our “shortcuts” and “creativity” are strengths, not weaknesses, and we’re going to send the loud-and-clear message that despite the perception, hackers aren’t “evil”… that the overwhelming majority of us are non-criminal. We’re brilliant and creative. We have jobs and ethics and morals and families, and we can make a difference.
And yes, we’ll take shortcuts to disrupt poverty whenever we find them. No apologies there.
On to the list. This is what’s on our drive:
- 642-444 CIPT Cisco IP Telephony.iso
- 642-504 SNRS Securing Networks With Cisco Routers And Switches.iso
- 642-524 SNAF Securing Networks With ASA Fundamentals.iso
- 642-533 IPS Implementing Cisco Intrusion Prevention Systems.iso
- 642-642 QOS Quality Of Service.iso
- 640-863 DESGN Designing For Cisco Internetwork Solutions Exam.rar
- CCIE Certification Package.iso
- CCIE Video Practice Lab.iso
- 640-816 ICND2 Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2.iso
- 640-822 ICND1 Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1.iso
- 642-812 BCMSN Building Converged Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks.iso
- 642-825 ISCW Implementing Secure Converged Wide Area Networks.iso
- 642-845 ONT Optimizing Converged Cisco Networks.iso
- 642-901 BSCI Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks.iso
- 70-228_1 Installing, Configuring, And Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition.iso
- 70-228_2 Installing, Configuring, And Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition.iso
- 70-229 Designing And Implementing Databases With Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition.iso
- 70-236 Configuring Exchange Server 2007.iso
- 70-237 Designing Messaging Solutions With Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.iso
- 70-238 Deploying Messaging Solutions With Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.iso
- 70-270_1 Installing, Configuring, And Administering Windows Xp Professional.iso
- 70-270_2 Installing, Configuring, And Administering Windows Xp Professional.iso
- 70-271 & 70-272 Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician.iso
- 70-282 Planning, Deploying, And Managing A Network Solution For The Small And Medium-Sized Business.iso
- 70-284 Implementing And Managing Microsoft Exchange Server 2003.iso
- 70-285 Designing A Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Organization.iso
- 70-290 Managing And Maintaining A Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment.iso
- 70-291 Implementing, Managing, And Maintaining A Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure.iso
- 70-293 Planning And Maintaining A Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure.iso
- 70-294 Planning, Implementing, And Maintaining A Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Infrastructure.iso
- 70-297 Designing A Windows Server 2003 Active Directory And Network Infrastructure.iso
- 70-298 Designing Security For A Windows Server 2003 Network.iso
- 70-299 Implementing And Administering Security In A Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network.iso
- 70-350 Implementing Microsoft Internet Security And Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004.iso
- 70-400 Configuring Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007.iso
- 70-401 Configuring Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007.iso
- 70-431 Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Implementation And Maintenance.iso
- 70-443 Designing A Database Server Infrastructure By Using Microsoft SQL Server 2005.iso
- 70-444 Optimizing And Maintaining A Database Administration Solution By Using Microsoft SQL Server 2005.iso
- 70-450 Designing, Optimizing And Maintaining A Database Administrative Solution Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008.iso
- 70-451 Designing Database Solutions And Data Access Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008.iso
- 70-528 Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 – Web-based Client Development.iso
- 70-620 Configuring Microsoft Windows Vista Client.iso
- 70-621 Upgrading Your MCDST Certification To MCITP Enterprise Support.iso
- 70-622 Supporting And Troubleshooting Applications On A Windows Vista Client.iso
- 70-624 Deploying And Maintaining Windows Vista Client And 2007 Microsoft Office System Desktops.iso
- 70-631 Configuring Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.iso
- 70-640 Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Configuration.iso
- 70-649 Upgrading Your MCSE On Windows Server 2003 To Windows Server 2008.iso
- 77-601 Using Microsoft Office Word 2007.iso
- 77-602 Using Microsoft Office Excel 2007.iso
- 77-603 Using Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007.iso
- 77-604 Using Microsoft Office Outlook 2007.iso
- 77-605 Using Microsoft Office Access 2007.iso
- Train Signal (Lab 01) – Active Directory
- Train Signal (Lab 02) – File Servers
- Train Signal (Lab 03) – Web Servers
- Train Signal (Lab 04) – DNS Infrastructure
- Train Signal (Lab 05) – DHCP Servers
- Train Signal (Lab 06) – WINS Infrastructure
- Train Signal (Lab 07) – Internet Gateways
- Train Signal (Lab 08) – Virtual Private Network
- Train Signal (Lab 09) – Routers And Packet Filters
- Train Signal (Lab 10) – Server Security
- Train Signal (Lab 11) – Network Security
- Train Signal (Lab 12) – Advance Security
- Train Signal (Lab 13) – Windows XP
- Train Signal (Lab 14) – Group Policy
- Train Signal (Lab 16) – Sites And Services
- Train Signal (Lab 17) – Exchange Server 2000
- Train Signal (Lab 18) – Exchange Server 2003
- Train Signal (Lab 19) – Cisco Routing
- Train Signal (Lab 20) – Wireless Networking
- Train Signal (Lab 21) – ISA Server 2004
- Train Signal (Lab 22) – Linux Networks
- Train Signal (Lab 23) – CCNP – BSCI
- Train Signal (Lab 24) – CCNP – Switched Networks
- Train Signal (Lab 25) – CCNP – BCRAN
- Train Signal (Lab 27) – CCNP – ISCW
- Train Signal (Lab 28) – CCNP – ONT
- Train Signal (Lab 29) – Cisco Ccent 640-822 Exam ICDN1
- Train Signal (Lab 30) – Cisco Ccent 640-822 Exam ICND2
- Train Signal (Lab 31) – CCNP BCMSN
- Train Signal (Lab 32) – Windows Small Business Server 2003
- Train Signal (Lab 33) – Windows Vista
- Train Signal (Lab 34) – Exchange Server 2007
- Train Signal (Lab 35) – Microsoft Virtualization Server
- Train Signal (Lab 36) – VMware
- Train Signal (Lab 37) – VMware ESX Server
- Train Signal (Lab 38) – CompTIA A+
- Train Signal (Lab 39) – SharePoint Server 2007
- Train Signal (Lab 40) – Introduction to Windows Server 2008
- Train Signal (Lab 41) – Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Training
- Train Signal (Lab 42) – TrainSignal – TCP-IP and Networking Fundamentals Bonus
- Train Signal (Lab 43) – TrainSignal – Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure Training, MCITP 70-643 Exam
Professor Messer’s Free CompTIA Network+ Certification. Although this is listed as “free” there is a cost associated with downloading the videos, which we have not paid.This is good training, and it seems inexpensive. We have purchased the A+ content and are trying to download it, but the speed here in Uganda is too slow.
The Shon Harris CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) Collection.
Linux+ Training with Mike Myers. This is of unknown origin. I don’t know if it is sold commercially or not.
“Pirating for Charities?”
Let’s not go to extremes.