Kassidy Morin, a Social Work student at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, is taking part in a service learning project to help low/no vision students at Moshi Secondary School in Moshi, Tanzania, East Africa, gain the technology they need to reach their potential as learners.
Moshi Secondary School (MSS) is a public residential school that houses 765 students and employs 97 teaching and non-teaching staff members. There are approximately 60 students who receive educational services from the Department of Special Education, most of whom struggle with low or no vision. For these students, the only way to learn is to sit in the classroom and listen. MSS does not have textbooks in Braille and the classroom computers are in poor condition.
Shirley Rush, UMPI Associate Professor of Social Work and BSW Program Coordinator, began the Community, Friendship and Hope project as a grassroots, needs-based response that has been working to obtain technology for low/no vision MSS students, including 11 laptops, 10 for students and one for their instructor. Morin became involved during her first semester at UMPI after transferring from a university in Canada. She was interested in volunteering for a project on campus or in the community and learned about Rush’s involvement with MSS.
“This project has really opened my eyes to things happening in the world and inspired me to work with different populations as a social worker,” Morin said.
Morin has held many fundraisers for Community, Friendship and Hope including a bake sale and a cheesecake raffle, which helped raise sufficient funds to purchase headphones for MSS students. The University of Maine System donated all 11 laptops needed.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, Morin is continuing fundraising in order to purchase a Braille embosser to convert written text into tactile Braille cells. This will allow the students to have printed textbooks in the classroom for the first time. This past fall, Morin hosted a faith-based music fest called “Ballads for Braille” at her home parish in Perth. She has also garnered a pledge of support from the Rotary Club in Perth Andover.
Morin said that the laptops, headphones and other equipment will help low/no vision students at MSS better connect with their instructor and engage with the material they learn in the classroom. Students will be able to read textbooks in Braille and the screen reader software will read aloud the words on their laptop screens.
“The equipment, including the laptops, will give low/no students the ability to learn in ways that they might not have been able to before and to do great things with their education,” Morin said.
For more information about Community, Friendship and Hope, please contact Professor Rush at firstname.lastname@example.org.