Empowering Former Child Soldiers and Their Communities in Uganda by Bridging the Digital Divide
Over 865 million of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty, 70% are digitally excluded and do not have access to computers. This growing digital divide locks people into poverty and keeps them in isolation. Bridging this divide equalizes access to education, information, and opportunity.
In 2007, Ron and Deb Plotkin visited the Internally Displaced Persons camps in Northern Uganda into which the Acholi population had been herded to protect them from Joseph Kony’s 20-year reign of terror. In camp after camp they were surrounded by the most extreme poverty, hunger, and absence of every basic necessity from clothing to safe water and proper sanitation. They listened to stories of unspeakable pain and loss, and felt the crush of absolute hopelessness. But they also saw the warmth, determination and intelligence of the Acholi people.
Brilliance and talent are equally distributed across the world, though opportunity is not. In poverty stricken areas, the lack of access and connection to relevant information is preventing millions of people from escaping the cycle of extreme poverty, or developing the ability to compete in labor markets or be informed about basic health practices. U-TOUCH’s work in Uganda demonstrates the positive results that occur when information is provided, with support, to disadvantaged individuals and regions. Employment increases, incomes increase, businesses grow, health improves, and student’s academic performance improves.
U-TOUCH was founded in 2010 with only 25 computers. U-TOUCH has grown to six digital library centers with 250 computers in the most disadvantaged areas in Uganda. Centers are staffed by local IT specialists and supported by an all-volunteer US organization. Community members learn how to use Internet technology to gain knowledge and develop innovative solutions to extreme poverty. Starting with free computer literacy training coupled with fundamental health and wellness education, members are supported, mentored and connected to the world. U-TOUCH also offers access to many learning programs tailored to specific needs, such as job and life skills training, entrepreneurship training, academic support and enrichment, agriculture, and conflict resolution. As a result:
• Members have achieved new employment and job promotions;
• Students without books have been able to study for exams, achieve high performance scores and gain entrance to universities;
• Health workers have accessed life saving information;
• Small businesses have reached out to mentors and grown significantly;
• Farmers have gained agricultural knowledge enabling them to grow more food for their family and community;
• Numerous individuals and schools have connected through our eMentoring platform
“I must confess I was living amidst computer illiteracy. But then when I was given a place at U-TOUCH I had a new life. There was a remarkable change that even the blind could see, the deaf could hear of. This was great wonders. U-TOUCH has given me the fishing hook and the net and it was upon me to do enough fishing so that hunger does not kill me. I now work for a company!” Said Opiyo Bob Maxwell, one of thousands of beneficiaries describing the huge impact U-TOUCH has on his life.
More About This Charity
Small Charity of the Year
Transforming lives in disadvantaged regions by bridging the digital divide.
- This Achievement raised $70,000
- This charity raised $60,000 in the past year
- This Achievement helped 3,000 people
- This charity helped 3,000 people in the past year
- Through this Achievement, 1700 individuals were trained and received digital literacy certification