Grants:Project/Rapid/GastelEtzwane/SnailMail Kiwix/Report

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Did you meet your goals? Are you happy with how the project went?

Yes, the project went quite well, I feel that the goals I set have been met. At the same time, I was increasingly aware of having to tread a fine line between being a generous toubab (which nowadays means a tourist or a European/American aid worker) and a concerned individual intent on providing partnership and a way to alleviate certain educational difficulties (aka lack of access to the knowledge available in Wikipedia).


Please report on your original project targets.

Target outcome Achieved outcome Explanation
between 5 and 20 organizations contacted
  1. Left 2 USB keys with the « CAUX-Initiatives of Change Foundation ».
  2. Left a few USB keys with « Enseignants sans Frontières », Swiss branch.
  3. Sent a few USB keys to the Senegalese students studying at the Tunis university.
  4. Over a dozen USB keys given to different NGO headquarters in Geneva. At least a dozen more were given out during the Geneva Health Forum 2018. A lot of NGOs active in the health field were contacted and we discussed off-line Wikipedia with them.
  1. I was hoping to be able to reach Cornelio Sommaruga but did not get through to him. Have not heard back yet from the CAUX-Initiatives,will try to get back in touch soon.
  2. They run a project in Fatick (Senegal): Vikidia+Kiwix was installed on 49 8GB USB sticks used by school teachers, 5 32GB USB keys were left with the local correspondant, Wikipedia+Kiwix was installed directly on a dozen laptops belonging to teachers who had brought them along specifically for that.
  3. The USB keys being sent to the Tunis University is an on-going process that started before this Rapid Grant was approved. My contact there organized a seminar and set up a booth introducing off-line Wikipedia to fellow students:
    More keys were sent in Autumn 2017 but my contact has finished his studies in June 2018. I will contact the Tunisia User Group about continuing this type of outreach.
  4. No feedback received from the different NGOs I talked to. One person I did not know working with one of the NGOs did come up to me while I was manning the WikiMed booth at the Geneva Health Forum 2018 and we talked about off-line Wikipedia. So the information did get spread within the NGO (sorry, I did not write down his name at the time).
450 end users reached I do not know... This particular outcome is hard to evaluate. A lot of local copies and installs are made, but since this is done off-line it is difficult to count exactly how many end users have been reached. Every one of the recipients in Africa I have been able to talk to says that a lot of copies have been made (a dozen or so).
20 update requests over 20 requests
  • Many updates are requested and I am setting up a way of getting the newer versions of the Kiwix zim files to those who request them. This will be done by local user in Senegal and in other African countries. These local Offline Wikipedia distributors will be able to charge end-users for this service and make it sustainable on a long term.
  • Two of the Swiss associations active in teacher training projects now do the downloading on their own, and then bring newer versions of the zim files with them when they go to Africa once or twice a year.


Projects do not always go according to plan. Sharing what you learned can help you and others plan similar projects in the future. Help the movement learn from your experience by answering the following questions:

  • What worked well?
    - After explaining and demonstrating off-line Wikipedia for a while, it was nice to be able to gift a USB key to the person I was trying to convince. The promise then given after receiving the key, such as "I will continue to test this program...", sounded much better to me than the promises I used to get like "I will download and test the program..."
    - It was easy for me to adapt the contents of the USB keys for the person I was going to meet.
  • What did not work so well?
    - Shortly after the grant was approved, the prices for USB keys went up. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I then purchased the keys bit by bit, and was able to adjust the content for certain recipients.
    - The zim file for the French Wikipedia now no longer fits on a 32GB USB, have to use a 64 GB USB. Some older computers (Windows XP) cannot recognize a 64 GB USB so have to use an external hard drive.
    - A lot of USB keys are lost to virus infections.
    - It is very difficult to get feedback on the use of the USB keys.
  • What would you do differently next time?
    - Have different size USB keys ready. A lot of smaller ones, and larger, more complete ones for the serious prospects and future partners.
    - Work out a way to get some feedback.
    - Ideally, we could use read-only USB keys to distribute the Kiwix programs and reduce the infections.
    - Set up local contact persons in the target countries so that it is easier for the recipients of the USB keys to get updates or purchase replacement keys.


Grant funds spent[edit]

Please describe how much grant money you spent for approved expenses, and tell us what you spent it on. Prices are in Swiss Francs, the total is converted to US dollars

  • September 2017: 20 x 32 GB USB - 298.00
  • October 2017: 10 x 32 GB USB - 149.00
  • Dec 13 2017: USB/OTG Hub & Card reader - 19.90
  • Dec 13 2017: USB/OTG Hub & Card reader, 1 x 64 GB MicroSD, 1 x 64 GB USB - 74.70
  • Dec 23 2017: 2 x 64 GB USB - 59.90
  • Feb 2 2018: 2 x 1 TB external HD, 2 x 32 GB USB, 2 x 64 GB MicroSD - 209.40
  • Feb 2 2018: tranport to Senegal by a friend (2 cups of coffee) - 7.00
  • April 6 2018: 1 x 128GB MicroSD,2 x 64GB MicroSD, 2 x 32GB MicroSD, 2 x 32GB USB - 215.30
  • June 8 2018: 1 x 2 TB external HD, 50 x 16 GB USB - 517.40
  • July 09 2018: Money transfer for purchase of 1 x external HD in Senegal, 1 x mini-hub, 1 x 64GB USB - 143.35
  • July 14 2018: 4 x 64 GB MicroSD, 8 x 32 GB USB - 198.80
  • Total - 1892.75

Remaining funds[edit]

Do you have any remaining grant funds?

I no longer have the receipts for the September 2017 and October 2017 purchases. I can refund that part if requested.

Most of the shipping expenses are not counted here, the shipping is usually done using a cash only no receipt system. Some of the other purchases related to the project are not counted either as they were not on the original budget.

Anything else[edit]

Anything else you want to share about your project?

When working on teacher training in Senegal it quickly becomes apparent that a lot of my colleagues use computers running on Windows XP, especially in areas with little or no internet access. The last time I was in Senegal was 2016, but my contacts in Senegal have confirmed that this is still the case in September 2018. This means that I am trying to stay within the limitations of the Windows XP operating system, especially the 32 GB maximum size for a USB key, and the 4 GB maximum file size.

This makes it more complicated to distribute the full French Wikipedia Kiwix package, because the whole thing is a little bit to big to fit on a 32 GB key. I have tested formatting USB keys with NTFS and found out that most of those keys were severely damaged by yanking the key out of the computer instead of ejecting it cleanly using the eject command. For this reason I have started using external hard drives which are not much more expensive than a 64 GB USB key. I prefer to stick with what you get "out of the box" because the idea is to keep everything as much as possible within what my Senegalese colleagues are comfortable with so that they can use the offline Wikipedia on their own and easily share it around them.

So, basically, a wrench was thrown in the works when the French Kiwix+zim files went over the 32 GB limit. There are ways around this, but it no longer is as simple as before. GastelEtzwane (talk) 12:18, 19 November 2018 (UTC)