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One of iLab’s goals is to incubate curiosity, ideas, networks, creativity and businesses. One way we do this is by to offering a collaborative space and technology to the public through our Co-working Hours Program: time every week when students, entrepreneurs, activists, creative professionals and artists can drop in to use our work stations, creative gear, training resources, meeting spaces and get technical support from our team. Co-working Hours have sparked thousands of ideas and hundreds of projects. The following are just a few of the stories of how people are using iLab’s Co-working Hours.
Samuel Kpartor, a student, is using iLab to pull together his social network, connect with local organizations and develop new creative skills. In Co-working Hours he’s learned how to use Corel Draw to build a logo for the Movement for Sustainable Alternative (mosa), a student radical political movement that advocates for injustices within society. He has also learnt to use tools such as Google Docs, Paint Artist, and other resources to design and build websites that enable local organizations, such as Natural Resource Research Initiative, to establish their presence on the web and communicate their work to their beneficiaries, donors and supporters.
Darlington Doe was diagnosed with splenomegaly a disease that causes the enlargement of the the spleen, effecting the quality of blood in the body and if it is not treated will eventually become fatal. Darlington found himself in a situation where he knew nothing about a disease that could end his life. He turned to iLab, a place where Darlington could access the internet to learn about his condition and explore the options that were possible. His research uncovered that the surgery is very unsuccessful here in Liberia often leading to the death of the patient. iLab has provided Darlington the opportunity to discover better options in the US and Ghana. He now pursues his surgery in these countries. Through the services of iLab, Darlington has been empowered to make an informed decision that might end up saving his life.
William S. F. Cole is a student attending the University of Liberia studying to become a mining engineer. He is one of iLab’s most active users participating in many courses and actively using co-working hours. His wide index of learnt computer skills has built a foundation of learning that is assisting in achieving his degree. On top of this Will has used co-working hours to use GNU Cash, an accounting program, to properly keep track of a family business. Together they have started a business selling Cool Aid to assist in paying bills for transportation and food, allowing his family to afford to send him to school and create a better life for himself. Eventually, through the help of iLab Will will be able to achieve his degree making him extremely employable in Liberia’s booming mining industry.
Jickson Freeman, a part time student at Stella Marie Polytechnic, has been coming to iLab since 2012. He has used his time at iLab co-working hours to teach himself tricks of internet streaming and video media. With these skills he has build a live streaming service for his church. Members who are out of the country or even just unable to attend pay Jickson to live stream the service over the internet. All proceeds are then donated back into the church for their benefit.
Jacqueline M. Teah is using iLab as a hub of learning. Under the mentorship of her brother, Prince, she is learning computer skills and the basis of programs such as Microsoft Office. These skills will enable her to find her dream of getting a job as a secretary, bank clerk, or cashier.
Israel Z. Kollie is currently studying geology at the University of Liberia. During his primary and secondary education he had extremely limited access to technology. In order to succeed in a competitive geology program that would allow him to compete for jobs with geologists from the developing world he had to become fluent in the language of computers. Through his hard work of completing 6 full iLab courses and also using co-working hours Israel has developed these skills. It is allowing him to become more efficient with his time in school and work towards competing for competitive jobs in Liberia’s developing natural resource industry.
Monah Forh is currently in a transitional phase where she has finished her post secondary schooling and is now searching for a career to pursue. She began using iLab when she was unable to access computers and internet anywhere else. Currently, she has been working on building the ground work necessary to establish a children’s outreach program. This program is unique and therefore there is nowhere within Liberia she can turn to receive help. iLab has provided the tools for exploration and allowed her to build this necessary ground work. The desired program will offer a place for children to fulfill their educational needs and lay the foundation of making them life long learners.