Article Excerpt

“Lillian Masere has been in the institution for only two weeks now. She appreciates that the institution has helped her realize her dream. Her fighting spirit tells it all. “I learned about Tunapanda last year. I didn’t pass the first interview. I then visited the website and checked for the next application. The space has given me everything, including freedom, which you need as a computer technologist.” She also hopes to design clothes in future. James Murunga used to sell grocery near the centre and after making an inquiry, he enrolled and is now concentrating on web design.

When asked what disruptive design means in his context, Jay says “Helping people to gain skills and to earn income in an environment that upholds creativity and self-expression. It is also by giving people an exposure to learn different ways of teaching.”

The institution has retained a number of its graduates to teach and help their peers gain ground in whatever they are passionate about. Jackline Kimani is a beneficiary of the institute and now a teacher. She teaches web design and photography. “Apart from teachers knowing everything, you can exchange ideas. I am planning to extend the sort of learning in Tunapanda to other people.”

Jay confirms to us that the challenges however, has been the localization of the videos to suit the local context. When asked how they are coping with this, he says they are creating videos in-house and are training people to create more. “We have begun creating locally-relevant videos licensed under and open Creative Commons license, where other people will be able to modify them and translate them into several languages.” Another challenge has been finding suitable institutions where their graduates can work or intern. The institute has therefore taken it upon itself to network and connect their students within and abroad, like the Tennessee Institute of technology, Kibera school and teaching in Uganda.

3D printing is one of the areas of design that is core to the institution. An interesting design show-cased to us was a plastic hand that was created using their 3D printer. It is set to be a full functioning hand once it is put on someone who has lost their hand. If the wrist moves up the fingers open and when it moves down, the fingers close and one should be able to pick stuff with it. “Our idea is that if you create something out of a machine like this, then you can re-imagine the world in a way that you can disrupt, change and improve.”

As Tunapanda hopes to extend its approach to a broader base, Mick Larson sums it all. “It is great to see everyone with different passions find their dreams.””