Peter Gishuru, Yohannes Beshi and ACPNW intern Ida Goitem with students at the lab.
Peter Gishuru, the President and CEO of the African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest (ACCPNW), was talking with a recent immigrant from Kenya, who complained of not knowing how to operate a computer. “I do not even have email,” he said. Unable to find employment, this man wanted to volunteer at a local senior center, even though manning the front desk, and thus the computer, would pose a dreaded task. Like him, many African immigrants and refugees struggle with a notable lack of computer skills.
To address this gap the African Chamber of Commerce received funds from the Technology Matching Fund to implement a computer literacy program at the Center for East African Community Affairs (CEACA). Located in the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, CEACA maintains a 15-unit computer lab that is fully equipped with Internet access, is wheelchair accessible, and offers daycare facilities for families. Centrally located and easily accessible by public transportation, Rainier Beach is an ideal location to offer computer classes to its 300 members.
The program successfully launched in November. Classes are held on Saturdays and begin with time to share coffee and doughnuts to create a welcoming environment. Volunteers work with students to teach a variety of skills, ranging from computer basics to learning how to conduct a job search online and using social media. In addition to helping students gain technology skills, a key goal for Peter and Yohannes Beshi, executive director at the CEACA is to create the instructional, practical and administrative organization necessary to continue classes beyond the life of this grant.
For more information on the project contact Peter Gishuru.