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Vim: Making Life Easier for Coders while Helping Children in Uganda

If you're in any type of web development or programming, then you've likely heard of Vim (vim.org), which stands for “Vi Impoved.”

Vim is an open source text editing software.

The text editor is highly configurable and is included with most UNIX systems as well as Apple OS X. You can download different version of Vim at this page.

The best way to describe the software is as a Notepad-like environment, but not a word processing program by any stretch.

It is meant to allow the user to have some flexibility while still stripping away all the noise and allowing the user to focus on the code. With some word processing programs, lines are added that can create errors in coding – not the case with Vim.

Inventing Charityware as a Category

Bram Moolenaar

On November 2, 1991, Vim was released by Bram Moolenaar as freeware and was sent out on a floppy disk. Since Moolenaar donates advertising profits to Ugandan charities, the software can also be called charityware or careware.

Moolenaar is a Dutch programmer. Orphans in Uganda are near and dear to his heart, which is why he began donating advertising profits. He is seen as one of the pioneers of charityware by being one of the first programmers to encourage people to donate to his favorite charity if they used his freeware.

In an interview with Binpress, Moolenaar explained that Vim stands out from other editors because the user must invest time into learning Vim commands and figuring out tricks to become more and more efficient through the editor.

While other text editors are busy releasing new versions and changing the functionality of the software, Vim has a standard so that it will work on all computers and not just the newest ones.

Users of the editing platform seem to agree that it is one of the best around. Vim has won a number of awards, including favorite text editor and was a finalist for the LinuxWorld Editors' Choice award.

Giving Back to the World

The way that charityware works is that each person who uses the software is asked to donate to the charity of the creator's choice. While you don't have to donate, the programmer is basically saying, “Hey! If you liked my software, please donate a little to my favorite charity.”

Moolenaar originally worked with a children's center in Uganda for a year, which gave him the dream of starting International Child Care Fund Holland (ICCF).

Users donate to ICCF and ICCF sends most of the money they collect to the Kibaale Children's Centre in southern Uganda. ICCF is able to donate 99.5% of the money raised because they have extremely low overhead. Most of the work is completed by volunteers. The Ugandan people have been struck by an AIDS epidemic. It is estimated that between 10-30% o the people are infected by the virus. And because of the high death rate, there are many orphans in the region.

AIDS Epedimic

The people in the area are in desperate need of help and Moolenaar recognized that and decided to step up and make a difference by getting involved with the children's center. Kibaale Children's Centre (KCC) was started by Canadian missionaries. They help around 700 children a year, so this was a good cause to get behind for ICCF.

Most of these children with with extended family, such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent. However, the people who have taken them in already live in extreme poverty. KCC fills the gap to see that the children's basic needs are met.

Other Ways KCC Helps

KCC also works to provide medical relief through vaccinating children from contagious diseases. They also focus on making sure the children receive an education as that can help combat poverty and even the further spread of AIDS.

Clean drinking water is not available to the people in southern Uganda. There is a river and a few polluted water holes, but all of this water is highly contaminated. They can't even dig a well as the underground water in the area has high amounts of iron. KCC builds water tanks at schools. They can't provide this for each family – it is just too costly at this time.

Moolenaar has a philanthropic view on life. He states that you might be doing well, able to go to dinner, and even have a glass of wine. But, what about the rest of the world? What if we all could help in some small way? In the interview with Binpress, Moolenaar added, “In the end, seeing the children grow up, finish their studies and find a job is wonderful.”

Each year, dozens of children graduate from the center. ICCF gets a steady stream of donations and is able to keep investing in the future of Uganda, the children.

Developers can feel positive about using a software that makes their lives easier and donating to a cause that makes childrens' lives easier. Vim is the best of both worlds in this respect.



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