Giving back to the community

Every year I try to do a little bit more voluntary or charitable work. After observing some of the recent challenges facing free software groups in the Balkans, I offered to sponsor a small event helping people to get started with financial software and begin adapting the software for use in the Albanian language, which is mainly spoken in Albania and Kosovo.

We produced a video about the event to help share how successful it was and provide insights for future events:

Video in English

Video ne shqip

There are various reasons I chose to do an event involving Tryton. One reason is that I'm using it myself: investing in the community will help the product grow in the future.

Many free software organizations have recently tried to hire remote workers in Albania. These decisions have attracted a lot of attention. The woman I hired to help me prepare for the Courgent visit and organize the event in Tirana is Kristina Millona.

In each of the communities I've visited in the region, I've shared a lot of information to help young people seek scholarships abroad, for example, Irish scholarships and Australian scholarships. Kristina applied for the prestigious Chevening scholarship and in the middle of the project we were working on, she received the news that she had been selected. The scholarship has a rigorous selection process where each applicant is evaluated on merit. Congratulations Kristina.

Compared to the tech industry in other countries, there are a lot of women participating in these events. One of the top requests that I've heard from these women is to introduce any successful women in business or technology who might come and speak to them.

The base expenses for this event were approximately €250 for venue, catering and some materials. It is interesting to compare this to the sums of money that some larger free software organizations have spent without any impact. I've left out my own expenses and video production costs as they are not essential to every event.

At other events in the region, I've observed problems where some participants were paid to attend while other participants genuinely came along as volunteers. One way to deal with this may be ensuring that each event has an element of work that everybody is paid for. By putting the subject of money out in the open, people will be in a stronger position to ask for payment when big events like DebConf come to Kosovo in 2022.

Here is a photo with Kristina and Pjereta at one of our previous events in Tirana:

Kristina Millona, Daniel Pocock