The Dharan Information and Communications Technology Center in Nepal offers free training on computer basics for children of poor and marginalized communities. Umesh, Manamaya Darji and Bhakta Shrestha are a few of the many young people whose lives have been changed by the ICT center. Here, they share their experiences.
It was impossible. I come from a squatter community. I had never imagined that I would touch a computer. My hands trembled when I first touched the keyboard. I feared even a mouse would give me an electric shock.
Children of the Digital Divide
Dharan ICT center has been successfully conducting computer training for children of poor and marginalized communities. Trainees receive free training on computer basics, web page designing, photoshop and hardware.
They live below the poverty line. Children come from an extremely marginalized community. Some are conflict victims, others are street children and children with disabilities.
Umesh is a former street child. He now gives computer lessons to his peers. There is a junkyard near the Dharan ICT centre. Just like these kids, Umesh used to come to this junkyard to sell discarded items.
I also used to come to this place. I was unaware about the centre though it was at a stone's throw distance. I used to earn a dollar or two per day. Sometimes I wouldn't make a penny. I made money by collecting plastic and polythene bags. I only knew later that ICT was giving training to street children.
Umesh gives counseling to street children for their bright future.
That is ICT centre. I learned to operate computer there. I will also teach you. Will you come?
In Damak, there is a squatter camp just by the river. Manamaya Darji comes from an untouchable or outcaste background. Initially, nobody in her community thought that she would make it to ICT centre. But she has now become a role model for other children in her community.
Once Bhakta Shrestha made a living by pulling rickshaw. Now, Bhaka not only operates computer but is also an IT activist. Bhakta not only takes classes at ICT centre, he also teaches children from deprived background. Bhakta has been a source of inspiration to other rickshaw pullers.
Children at Itahari ICT are preparing for e-news. The meeting decided to give responsibility of writing a report on child marriage among Mushahar community to Dilip Sada and Sanjay Thapa. Child journalists Dilip and Sanjay have come to Musahar settlement.
We've become conscious now. Children have also become literate. Before, the average age of marriage was 15. Now, it is 20.
After finishing the interview, Dilip and Sanjay go back to ICT centre to prepare an e-news about child marriage. The news will disseminated to organizations and communities.
Children's group regularly take information about diarrhea and health issues from the centre to their community. A team of reflect volunteers and children from ICT centre have come to community to raise awareness about diarrhea outbreak.
In order to avoid another diarrhea outbreak we have to be careful and we should use it for rehydration. Otherwise take the patient to the nearest health post.
Recently, Bhakta has been appointed as a layout designer in the local Masline Newspaper. Meanwhile, Umesh has started designing web pages dedicated to the plight and rights of street children.
ICT centers were established in four areas of Eastern Nepal as a pilot project to facilitate the access of poor and marginalized communities to information and communication technology.