My name is Abbas Mahmood. I am a "Wikipedian" from Kenya who currently edits the Swahili and English Wikipedias.
There are two major ways of contributing to Wikimedia: one is to edit, and the other is to donate. These two modes of contribution are mutually symbiotic: it is through your generous donation which is used, for example, to maintain the servers that make it possible for me to post an article about an important health topic.
We're in the middle of our annual fundraiser for the non-profit organization that hosts Wikipedia. Please take a moment to donate $20, $35, $50 or whatever you can to keep Wikipedia free for all.
But why should we contribute to Wikipedia? Rather than boast with the "because it's the number five most popular website" story, I think that it's best for me to give you an African perspective. One that many rarely hear of. One that I encounter on a day-to-day basis. One that affects most, if not all, of us who live in developing countries. It's a problem that I can't ignore; because I live with its consequences.
It's the story of a typical, young African girl. She must wake up at 4:00 AM and go fetch water at the nearby river in order to bathe her six younger siblings. Since she is in a public school, classes start at 7:00 AM; meaning she must be there and prepared by at least 6:30 AM. By the time she arrives at school, she is probably already tired and late for classes since she had to walk from home to school because she cannot afford bus fare.
The class teacher demands to check her homework, but she didn't do it because her Primary Math textbook (that she received from a 'generous donor') is a used 3rd edition, yet the teacher’s copy is the 8th edition. So, the angry teacher suspends this innocent girl from school because she couldn't afford to buy the latest textbook to do her homework. When she gets back home -- 'home' being a makeshift room in the slums of Kibera, she's disillusioned since her father makes less than $1 a day which is insufficient to even cover the basic needs of his family. So what's the solution to this nightmare?
The Kenyan government has recently made public schooling free to all. But that's not enough. Millionaires and philanthropists donate books to schools. Again, that's not a long-term solution. Thanks to our education critics here, the books will be useless by next year, since the syllabus/curriculum will have been upgraded by then. The future is not a continuation of the past: the future lies in Wikipedia. I think that the solution lies in open education projects like Wikipedia and Wikiversity. At least in my country, most schools have computers; if not Internet access. The only thing that remains -- is for us to raise the awareness of what a wonderful asset Wikipedia is. The students wouldn't have to worry about syllabus changes -- as Wikipedia receives real-time edits to reflect the necessary developments that a topic may undergo. I remember a fellow Wikipedia editor from Damascus saying how she is literally thrilled as to how an article can be created from scratch only to be edited and redacted by Wikipedians globally to become a fully-fledged article in only a matter of hours.
This is why I edit Wikipedia. Because the future of education is open and free. I kindly urge you to donate to -- or at least edit -- Wikipedia so that we can one day pride ourselves by changing the lives of millions of students, and hence being an integral part of achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goal #2: "Achieve Universal Primary Education."
Imagine a world where education was free for all. Let us all contribute to Wikipedia. Just remember this: if we as editors are the windows to Wikipedia, then you as a donor are the hinge that keeps them open.