March 1, 2006 § Leave a comment
En route to Colombo, Sri Lanka – February 25 – 26, 2006
Winding through the tea estates east of Colombo, the van was filled with laughter, smiles and dreams. The crew: Sulah from Ugabytes; Raihan, Mahmud and Billah from D.Net; Harsha, Ravi and Priyanthi from Sarvodaya; and me. It felt like a road trip with old friends. Yet, four months ago, most of us had never met.
Back in Tunis, Harsha had the wisdom to see a common passion amongst this group: a holistic, grounded, creative approach to the meaning of the word ‘telecentre’. Not knowing quite what to expect, he invited D.Net and Ugabytes for a post-WSIS visit to Sarvodaya’s Nuwara Eliya telecentre project. He had an intuitive feeling that some useful partnerships would pop up. And they did.
Concretely, the group came out agreeing to work together two initiatives: developing a framework to share telecentre models (think: business school case study + instructional video) and collaborating on the design of the telecentre.org reference desk model (which Ugabytes is already taking a lead on). These are things that will not only benefit all three organizations, but also the broader telecentre movement. And, of course, they will be stronger by building in cross-regional collaboration from the start.
However, the real partnership opportunities ran deeper: there was a deep desire to look at how the others get things done, to grab bits of wisdom and to bring them back home. Ugabytes’ experience offering practical telecentre support on the ground. Sarvodaya’s approach to mobilizing information activists at the very grassroots. D.Net’s thoughtful experiments with getting information age content to the village level. More importantly, there was a sense that we’d just stepped onto a longer path of evolving our approaches to telecentre work together.
I left Colombo today believing that some very special seeds had been sown. And, as Mahmud said to me: we can all expect many blossoms.