The digital divide is very real in remote parts of Nepal. About 50% of the population is illiterate and, given the pressure of poverty, there is a high drop-out rate from schools. Even those who stay in school might not emerge with an ideal education as infrastructure and equipment is often insufficient.

Meanwhile, Microsoft told us they were interested in helping people in need. “We were just looking for an opportunity to allow our team to give back in some way to one of the global communities we serve,” they wrote. They came out to Crossroads and took part in our poverty x-perience, the Struggle for Survival, along with a massive volunteering team-build. Following that, they assisted with our shipments, gave Crossroads exceedingly generous software provision and then began discussions about helping people cross the digital divide.

“Our computer lab is really becoming fruitful for students of class 4-8. It’s being nearly 1 year but we can’t express the outcome in words.” School principal to Microsoft.

The result? Microsoft, through a partner group, New Zealand nonprofit, Global Equity Brokers. donated hardware, software and expertise to children in a remote part of Nepal. They gave a fully equipped computer lab, with twenty computers and the needed software. They also sent six members of staff to install it and train the students. This equipped the laboratory to provide 1500 computer training slots for students each week, enabling many to cross the digital divide.

We often say that, in this work, we love to be as our name suggests: a crossroads between people in need and those who can help.

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The day the copper mines changed hands was a huge blow for the people of Kitwe in Zambia. The government gave the huge local mines over to the private sector and, quickly, our partners tell us, ‘approx. 70% -80%’ of the employees were made redundant. As the mines had provided the major employment for the area, and many men were then out of work, their wives tried to become the breadwinners by selling vegetables. That brought in little income, however, and depression, even suicide, soon took hold in the community. The toll of the massive unemployment was compounded as HIV/AIDS wrought the area a further deadly blow. Children were left without parents and many had to fend for themselves by sleeping on the streets and trying to find a living through simple jobs, drug selling or prostitution.

Computers

Education, in the midst of this was beyond the reach of many. Our partners in Kitwe decided to open a school and computer training centre which they asked us to equip. The students enrolling have constantly increased such that, today, they are needing to open another school. A typical student was Brian, a young man in his twenties who, every day, sold homemade scones and cupcakes from a basket he took from office to office. He earned very little money, but saw no alternative. He enrolled in the computer training centre and learned quickly (pictured). After graduation, he was employed by the local government for a short term project and earned an astonishing US$2,500, more money than he had ever dreamed possible. “My life begins now,” he said. He bought a photocopy machine and a computer and began a tiny business. Today he has his own centre (pictured) and four employees. He has taught xxxxx students and given them the chance to cross the digital divide and find a different future.

 

We love the multiplication in stories like this. We call it ‘the Crossroads Equation’. Computers sent from Hong Kong can literally re-start people’s lives and they, in turn, can then multiply many, many more. It’s why we love this work and why we love your help. If you are upgrading your computer, please don’t throw them out. Please email donategoods@crossorads.org.hk

 

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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