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Starting A Small Computer Center

 The computer center is named after my father who passed away last year.   It's his birthday tomorrow.

What business can you start if you're trying to settle in a remote farming and fishing town?  You want something that can earn you money and help the community at the same time.  There's a young community college on an adjacent lot.   Someone offers your relative a few computer sets.  You believe that education and socially responsible commerce and industry are the way to really help people in predominantly poor areas.  You talk and pray with your wife.  You both realize that some of the skills you have already accumulated are computer and networking skills, administrative management and academic support.  So what do you do?

Start a computer center. 

June 2014.  Laying the footprint.  The floor area will be reduced to fit our budget.

August 2014.  My wife outside the computer shop, with the community college's gate on the left. 

After building a small 12 square meter structure but just before setting up the computers, typhoon Glenda swoops in with all her destructive and discouraging force.  You and your wife proceed, however.  You repair the damaged windows, clean up, and thank God for preventing fallen tree branches from directly hitting your shop's thin GI roofing.  You operate the shop using a gasoline generator since electricity will be out for weeks or months.  Besides, even when there's electricity, power is still a problem as it regularly dips to 180 volts.  Electricity problems are currently addressed by generator use and a creative mix of PCs and old laptops hooked to external keyboards, mouse and monitors and maximizing 110V peripherals.  Future investment should go to clean and renewable power via solar energy.

First day.  Free one hour use so we can also test the computers and the internet connection.

Since we didn't have enough budget we were forced to build this small structure and hoped to expand later.  We weren't prepared to accommodate group work among students.  Sometimes we get really cramped.  I designed the center to have the most ventilation possible to battle the tropical heat and take advantage of the surrounding natural breeze.  Now that more rains are coming I will need to work on the canopies and extend one side to accommodate those who work in groups.  The extension will only be made of thatched roof (nipa) supported by one post on one side and by a live tree on the other.

We weren't prepared for times like this, when students need to work in groups.

We are supporting the adjacent Community College not merely by providing computers and internet connection but helping students and others in the community make better quality assignments, research and other personal needs.  So far, we have also assisted high school students and other young people working on their resumes.  My wife and I can't resist editing these kinds of outputs.

An added bonus from operating this shop is I get a small chance to reinforce college student learning.  I was given the opportunity to teach at the Community College of Manito weeks after classes started this school year and a few weeks before we opened the computer shop.  (Story about this teaching opportunity in the post "Carving the Future in Community Colleges".)

Another service we were able to include are free computer and English grammar tutorials under HARNESS Philippines.  Read more about this in the post "Free Computer and English Tutorials".

An upcoming blog will be a related story on the construction of the small computer center.


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