Since we became an organization last year we’ve only brought on one person to the Ushahidi staff to help with the increasing amount of work (Henry Addo in Ghana), making 5 of us total. Of course, this has only been possible due to the outstanding community of programmers, testers, grad students, translators, bloggers and designers who openly volunteer their time to the project.
Last month Ory announced a grant that Ushahidi received from the Knight Foundation. This grant was specifically aimed at Kenya, where the organization was born last year, and where we are most at home. It’s also where we choose to “eat our own dogfood”, applying the platform we built into the real world so that we’re users of the same tool that we create and can better improve it for other users. To do that we need more dedicated Ushahidi team members, people who could pour their time and energy into our deployments and partners in Kenya.
In Kenyan programming circles Ken Kasina (@kasina on Twitter) needs little, to no, introduction. However, to the rest of the world it should be noted that Ken won the Global Achievement Award for Open Source in Kenya this year. He is also heavily involved in the Ubuntu GNU/Linux project, working on translations and Linux-based utilities.
Ken will have a couple roles: to assist on deployments in Kenya, to work on core architecture and finally to be the go-to guy for the Ushahidi community of programmers in Nairobi.
Rebecca Wanjiku (@wanjiku on Twitter) is an active Kenyan technology journalist and blogger. Importantly for us, she’s well-known locally and is also well-versed in technology and can therefor be the dedicated person that we need for doing Ushahidi demos and focus groups, and someone who can competently assist those deploying Ushahidi on how to best market it to their end-users.
Rebecca will be responsible for reaching out to end-users, gathering feedback, and reporting on the use of the Ushahidi platform in Kenya. She will work closely with assigned researchers and help us document any issues and areas where users require technical assistance.
Rebecca and Ken represent a new phase for Ushahidi. Where we were once an ad hoc group of volunteers acting as an NGO in Kenya in January of 2008, we are now an international technology non-profit with roots in Africa…we look forward to expanding our footprint, especially in Africa.
As we grow, we use the additional funding to bring on smart, dedicated and talented people to fill the roles where we have specific needs. When these opportunities open up we always look to our community first, the people who have put in the most time and effort with great results, then we open it up to the larger extended community. If you’re interested in joining our team, get involved with the project first, see how we work and get a feel for the project as a whole.