Gaining confidence though coding


Last year, Lubuto was awarded a grant from ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action for Girls and Women to prevent early marriages by developing a Makerspace at the Mumuni Library. The Makerspace and its programs give girls, mothers, and female caregivers the opportunity to develop new skills, promoting educational achievement and increasing the financial capacity of mothers to support their families and keep their daughters in school. Our kick-off Makerspace activity was a Girls Can Code! residential technology camp that took place this month at the Mumuni Nabukuyu Library from April 7th-13th, 2019. The camp offered life-changing opportunities to 27 girls who arrived with little to no experience using computers, and left as amateur programmers who had created games in Scratch and Python, programmed robotic vehicles, and built their own computers.


The Girls Can Code! camp model aims to promote understanding of computational logic, develop problem-solving and creative technical thinking skills, and build life skills such as leadership and teamwork through an immersive, hands-on week of technology training. Campers included girls from the surrounding Nabukuyu community, as well as from Choma-based partner organization Musokotwane Compassion Mission Zambia (MCMZ), which retrieves girls from early marriages and conducts advocacy activities with traditional leaders.


The camp was a unique chance for girls from varied backgrounds to get to know each other, form friendships, and work together as teams. Over half of the participants were out-of-school, one-third were orphaned, and the group of participants from MCMZ included girls removed from early marriages. But regardless of where they came from, all of the girls (and the 10 accompanying Lubuto staff members!) enthusiastically committed to learning as much as they could over the course of the week, working late into the evenings as they prepared skits that demonstrated their newfound understanding of computer logic. During the days, girls participated in rotating small-group technology sessions where they learned to program in Scratch and Python, understand computer architecture by assembling computers, build and program robotic vehicles, and learn circuitry and electronics using Snapcircuits, Arduino microcontrollers and Raspberry Pi single board computers. Campers and staff also had the adventure of sleeping in the Reading Room of the Mumuni Library, with tasty and nutritious meals prepared each day by members of the Library Committee.

Girls expressed newfound confidence in their ability to use technology in creative contexts, establishing themselves as technology leaders in their communities and expanding their sense of what is possible for their futures. We see this as the first step towards developing a programming model for high-level technology instruction in Lubuto Libraries, reaching youth with high-demand skills that promote creative problem-solving, spur critical thinking, and open doors to new career opportunities.

Welcoming Esnart Mang’wato!


In March, Lubuto welcomed its newest staff member, Esnart Mang’wato! Esnart first learned about Lubuto in 2017, when she joined us in Lusaka as a volunteer role model mentor in our DREAMS mentoring program at the Model Library. When a vacancy opened for someone to lead our ViiV “Communities for Change” program in Nabukuyu, Esnart applied--and we remembered her energy and enthusiasm when we selected her for the position! Esnart moved from Lusaka to Nabukuyu in March, and has kicked off our ViiV activities by supporting the organization and facilitation of the coding camp, holding advocacy meetings with area traditional leaders, and launching a mentoring program for girls at the Mumuni Nabukuyu Library. Esnart holds an Advanced Diploma in Gender Studies (National Institute of Public Administration) and a certificate in Community Based Work with Children and Youth (University of Kwazulu Natal), and has a strong interest in working with children and youth who have experienced trauma. Welcome, Esnart!

Volunteer of the Month: Miyoba Nzala


Our April volunteer of the month is Miyoba Nzala from Musokotwane Compassion Mission Zambia in Choma, Zambia, who joined us as a volunteer for the coding camp at the Mumuni Library.  Click here to learn more.