Sao Tome and Principe Partnership

Sunday March 16 by administrator
March 16, 2008, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Phase Three Prep

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week were spent preparing for Thursday’s delivery of computers, reconnecting with staff at the National Library, troubleshooting library computers, meeting with government officials and finalizing the customs documentation for the offloading of the computers. We thought all the paperwork had been completed but additional paper, stamps and signatures were needed. Hopefully the way is clear for any future deliveries.

The computers at the Library are now hooked up to the Internet. Several were working fine. A few more needed some some work before getting back to normal. Ireque, the tech librarian had been using our computers to teach computer classes to children. We are very happy that the library is using the computers as they had originally intended.

Monday we see the USS Ft McHenry anchored off shore. An email on Tuesday informs us that the computers (110 complete systems) have arrived. Thursday morning we set out for the harbor to receive the computers. The US Navy was using the commercial port to tie up their landing crafts as Sao Tome’s harbor is not deep enough to dock a ship as large as the Fort McHenry. The ship was at anchor just off-coast so all people and equipment that needed to go between the ship and the shore had to be brought over in one of several landing crafts.

When we got to the harbor, the sailors who had volunteered to help us transport our computers from the landing craft to the storage facility were waiting for us. While we waited for the computers to arrive, we met with Commodore Norwell, the head of Africa Partnership Station (APS), and Commander Shaw, the commanding officer of the Fort McHenry. They stated how pleased they were to be able to assist in the delivery of the computers to Sao Tome and looked forward to working with us again in the future. After other supplies were offloaded on the dock the landing craft sped over to the Coast Guard landing where our computers were carried from the craft to awaiting Sao Tome military trucks by the APS volunteers, the Navy band, and Sao Tomean Army personnel.

The computers were moved into a storage facility that we have rented near StepUP. As it was a typically hot Sao Tome day, we treated the APS volunteers to a cool drink at the local cafe.

Exhausted, we retired to Jorge’s house for an air-conditioned nap (the temp has been in high 90s with 90+ humidity) before the Commodore’s reception at the Miramar Hotel.

The Commodore held a reception for Sao Tome government officials, US Embassy personnel, business leaders, expats and foreign dignitaries. We were also on the invite list. The reception included an extensive buffet, local drinks and a Navy band. Paul had the opportunity to meet the Minister of Natural Resources and US Embassy personnel.

On Friday, we took the Chaplain up on his invitation to tour the USS Fort McHenry. When we arrived on board we found a skid of computers that had somehow missed the previous day’s delivery. The seas were high and it rained all day so delivery of the last skid was postponed until Saturday morning. The ship, commissioned in 1986 is a docking craft. It has a large open interior bay for storage of equipment and smaller vessels. It has cranes and other large equipment to move the cargo. An interesting note is that to bring on the landing craft the McHenry must conduct a “controlled sink”. The ship takes on about 12 feet of water so the other boats can come aboard. Once the cargo hold is full the ship expels the water and raises the ship to its original displacement. Also interesting was the arrival of a similar French naval vessel. Quite a few sailors from both ships have been exploring the island the last several days.

An early call from the Chaplain on Saturday brought us back to the harbor. The last pallet of computers had arrived ashore and needed to be unloaded. After that small bit of activity, the rest of the day was more relaxing. Following some Internet time at the cafe, we met up with Helcio for a trek out to Neves to indulge in some of the famous Neves crabs in celebration of Jake’s 26th birthday.

On Sunday morning, Paul met with the DCM from the US Embassy in Gabon. He discussed our project and the other university projects conducted during the last year. Paul gave him a copy of the scenario plans completed by UI planning students last summer. The Embassy is very interested in the university’s work in Sao Tome and will support us when possible. They were impressed with our ability to get past all the hurdles to bring in the computers. Conversations will continue through email.

Tomorrow begins a very busy week. We need to inventory the computers, check out existing computers sites, identify new site for the summer project, speak with the high school staff about their future 25 computer lab and training for their youth, locate housing for the summer and various other tasks.


2 Comments so far
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Happy Birthday Jake! Congratulations on
the delivery and storage of all those computers.
No small feat! Today (Monday) it is thundering
and sleeting in Champaign. Take care, Sharon

Comment by Sharon Irish

I met with a newly admitted GSLIS grad student today who was very excited to hear about your work in Sao Tome. She has a friend in the Peace Corps in Senegal and she herself studied in Zanzibar. So she thought Sao Tome might at least get her in the right direction, since she wants to return to Africa!
Take care, Sharon

Comment by Sharon Irish

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