There is Always a First Step

Carmela N Bona, a young 23 year old graduate of Communication Arts from the University of the Philippines in Mindanao.

"I graduated in April 2005 and then in May 2005, joined the the Mindanao Business Council, as a Communications Assistant also working at the same time as a Technical Project Assistant for the Chamber Management Institute. We developed modules for the Mindanao that is a non-gov and a member organization. My organization is a network of Chambers of Commerce and Business Councils and our objective is to support and strengthen chambers to further establish organizations".

"Only last year, members of my unit resigned and I took over as Communications Officer and now I have the responsibilities for managing the Quarterly Magazine, Website content with the MIS Officer who works on the technical aspects, design press releases and provide members and trustees of the council with updates on what it is doing." Carmela's work also includes the design of brochures, managing media relations and press conferences.

"I've heard about FOSS before in college, our Computer Learning Center Lab was using Linux but i have always found Linux to be not user friendly thus this discouraged me to actually use it. FOSS is also not used in my office as such but what we do have is only a single computer and laptop running Open Office, all the rest are just running Microsoft Windows.  Even I myself lacked the awareness to go about FOSS along with my organization and then one day, our Executive Director emailed us a copy of the invitation to Asia Source and he was interested for me to attend Track 01 of the camp called 'Open Publishing and Broadcasting'  so that I could then apply the skills learnt directly to my work."

Carmela shares various problems for adoption of FOSS in her organization at large, "Our Council first requires FOSS Capacity Building to shift over from Microsoft. One issue that prevents us to do is that we work within tight deadlines and you don't have time to try anything else, just use something that is fast and easy to use! The only strategy to work with our Council would be encouraging negotiations and meetings with the management and staff intro ducting  FOSS and conduct demonstrations once they are interested. Larger trainings would be a later requirement."

The possible issues that Carmela faces are,"We may face problems related to breaking our users away from Windows since that is what they were initially trained on and based upon their previous learning, it will be hard to convince them to make the shift over. However, another option may be to use dual boot environments on user desktops so that they may experience the Linux environment but again the workloads. There is a great need to create an initial interest for the users to actually try Linux or at least Open Office. Secondly I believe that if Linux is somehow introduced or adopted by the Council, it will be beneficial in extending FOSS to the Council's member organizations and associations since empowering the council with FOSS means empowering its members as well".

"Another issue with any organization is the supply and level of technical support. It will be really hard to develop in house technical support capacity to support FOSS in the council since its focus is not on technical support and that should be bought in from a vendor and there should be a number of vendors available in the market that I have actually not yet come upon". She also has a strategy in mind to take the first step towards FOSS realization, "As soon as I get back from Asia Source 2, I will conduct an introductory seminar and training for 15 people in my office that will help me share what I have learnt from the camp with my colleagues. I may still have to go a very long way before we actually add more hardware running Open Office and other FOSS tools to the existing two computers only but what I have seen from this camp is that lots of people from all around the world are using FOSS and gaining lots of benefit and I will definitely be exploring new things".

author: Fouad Bajwa