What are Source Camps?
Source Camps are week-long workshops where individuals working in non-profit organisations come together to learn about technology use for non-profits.
But that's only half of it. In practice, these workshops have pioneered a new way of learning and teaching that is empowering the non-profit community and forging powerful, lasting links between different groups.
Please click on our Source Camps to date for more information:
- Summer Source – Croatia, September 2003
- Africa Source – Namibia, March 2004
- Asia Source – India, February 2005
- FOSS Road– Tajikistan, 2005
- Africa Source 2 – Uganda, January 2006
- Asia Source 2 - Indonesia - January 2007
Read about the Politics of Open Source Adoption here
Source Camps are built around a few core themes – or tracks – tailored to the needs of a specific region. The events have a primary focus on using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and building a community surrounding this. Previous tracks have included:
- Migration to FOSS
- Using FOSS in education
- Alternative ways to provide access
- Information handling and advocacy
In addition to the tracks, Source Camps have a range of sessions covering smaller topics and encouraging skills-sharing between participants. Sessions cover a broad range issues – including:
- Information sessions such as discussing how to set up an NGO office using FOSS software and provide ongoing maintenance and support.
- 'Screwdriver' sessions such as constructing a wireless antenna.
- Conceptual sessions such as examining the benefits and intricacies of localisations.
Further topics are also added depending on participants' needs and regionally relevant issues.
How do Source Camps work?
The workshops focus on learning by doing, rather than just listening – much more a workshop than a conference. With a unique, hands-on, peer-to-peer approach to sharing and learning, the workshops avoid the staid approach of experts delivering lectures to a passive audience, instead encouraging strong, active participation.
At Source Camps, there is no distinction between experts and audience. Everyone is part of a community of peers, all sharing their experience and expertise and learning from each other in self-organised networks. Ultimately, Source Camps' success depends on the right mix of people. Participants are carefully selected to ensure high levels of motivation and a mix of backgrounds.
The workshops are led by a core group of facilitators, which has emerged over the last few years, together with a range of local facilitators. All facilitators have strong experience of working in the non-profit sector and deploying free and open-source solutions. Above all, their job is to set the stage for each event without dominating.
Often held in rural or secluded locations, such as islands, with shared housing and energetic sessions, the workshops create an atmosphere of comradeship and help build long-term relationships between the participants. By helping to strengthen a sense of community, Source Camps are helping non-profit organisations to become more effective and mutually supportive.
Source Camps are characterised by a willingness to share and participate – among organisers, facilitators and participants. Volunteering to work together to make a workshop a success helps foster group integration and creates a sense of responsibility, which can only have a positive effect on the vitally important work these individuals carry out in the wider world, helping poor, persecuted and marginalised communities and people.
What is the need?
We're convinced that Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is the future of information technology for the non-profit community. Yet, over the years, we've identified a very serious lack of development and use of FOSS by NGOs.
The three main obstacles to FOSS being adopted by the non-profit community are:
- The need for local support
- The lack of awareness of FOSS
- The lack of a self-supported local community of practitioners
To help NGOs overcome these obstacles, we've initiated a ground breaking project to bring people together and do something about. The solution is Source Camps: a project to connect the open source community and non-profit organisations in developing countries – to the benefit of everyone involved.
What have they achieved?
Source Camps are catalysts for future projects and partnerships between participants. We've seen this happen time and time again, demonstrated by the high level of self-organised post-event collaborations between participants. Ultimately, it leads to local networks supporting each other in a mutually beneficial relationship.
Concrete outcomes of Source Camps have included:
- a suite of FOSS projects in Tajikistan: four training events, a roundtable, a Tajik version of linux, a FOSS resource centre, and a regional Central Asian FOSS training and networking event.
- new partnerships between software developers, technical support groups and school networking organisations: in Uganda, three organisations collaborated in setting up 250 refurbished computers in schools.
Asia Source 2
The camp goes beyond the technicalities and philosophies of F/OSS. I've learned to respect and love people from all walks of life, different culture, different beliefs, but we are all the same in goal and aspirations in life. The camp gave me a bigger network - not technical but social. I've earned more than I expected from the camp. Thanks for the memories and it will never be forgotten.
Jerome S. Gotangco, Indonesia
Participating in Asia Source II opened my eyes on the real Open Source: its benefits, its advantages, and the changes it can bring people. I was even shocked to see that a lot of people are involved in Open Source advocacy. And I was very lucky and fortunate to meet such great, intelligent, genius people.
You guys made me realize the real Open Source...You made me meet very great people from all walks of life...You brought change into my life...(and im willing to go back anytime) Thank you very much...Mabuhay ang Asia Source II! Long Live FOSS! Long Live Asia Source! :-)
Carmela "Ela" Bona, Philippines
Africa Source 2
I was part of Africa Source II, that was held in Kalangala early this year, Africa Source II was one of my most memorable experience and i do not regret being part of it.
Meeting so many people and sharing out ideas with the different guys freely was an experience that was worth not forgetting. There were lots of things to learn from the 'geeks' and people were willing to share out the knowledge freely.
I think Africa Source II was a super event and at the end of the day, going back home with lots of software as 'NGO in the box' was the best i ever experienced, to date i still use most of the material i got from the source camp and its amazing.
I believe the idea of source camps is amazing and people who go to them with lots of ambition get out there as changed people.
Evelyn Namara, Uganda.
Source events are beyond description, you would probably say it’s all you would need in one box.What makes this event different to me is simply "People” I wonder how they are chosen, its one out of a million events one would wish to attend. It’s a place where you learn everything at ago from how to open a bottle of bear with a mere paper to constructing a huge cheap network or may be building your own multi-million FM station with $30.
Nashon Onyalo, Kenya
Arrica Source 1
The Source Camp programme continues to improve in ways that help the Campers learn the skills they need and perhaps more importantly to learn the confidence to ask questions, to learn from themselves, and to meet people who they can work with on their shared goals and passions.
I am changed - I have developed a lot of drive and confidence from my interaction with my campers, and am passionate about helping people learn to help themselves, and instilling the same passion in others.
Neil Blakey-Milner, South Africa
Asia Source 1
It was the time that I found the true meaning of the spirit of Opensource and it's community. I learnt a lot and made some friends too :)
Simply short, thank you very much for inviting me into AsiaSource. Without you all, I won't be the way I am right now.
Fajar Priyanto, Pakistan
Without Summer Source I would not be implementing a shift to OSS software. It was only after talking with the participants of the camp and actually having 'hands on' experience that I felt confident enough in my own abilities to install and maintain the software. More important, however, was actually having confidence in the software itself and in the community which supports it. I gained this as a direct result of the camp and it has made a lasting impression on me and I hope it will too on the people I am working with here.
Ian Lawrence, Brazil
I learned a lot about the needs of NGO's from around the world, and even more about the key issues that make Free Software and Open standards so important everywhere in the world. In a sense, the inspiration to take one more step away from running a company and towards starting an NGO for real, came from the Summer Source camp.
Tomas Krag, head of the Danish NGO wire.less.dk