Empowerment

My experience in Kayamandi shaped my understanding of the use of technology in underdeveloped countries. The Non-Governmental Organization that we worked with had many programs in the community to help the people. Prochorus has programs in a variety of fields including childcare, emergency relief, and computer literacy. I was able to work in the computer literacy program, which teaches adults the necessary skills in order to take advantage of the donated computers. The class is a week long and for this period of time we were paired up with one student to explain one-on-one how to use the computer. We started with the basics including the various parts of the computer and their purpose, how to click and double click, and how to open programs. The next phase was to begin teaching them how to use these programs so they could benefit from them in looking for a vocation. We started with word and ran through the exercises that the program director gave us. At the end of the time, they opened a typing program and began to learn that skill.

Picture taken from Prochorus.

Computer literacy is something that can easily be taught with little effort. Once the students are given the tools on the basics, they can continue learning and growing with computers on their own. Most people view those living in poverty as less capable but I saw first hand that this is not the case. They were quickly picking up how to use a computer and did not even need our help to do their tasks anymore. It does not take much to radically change someones life through technological education.

Empowerment is the key to eradicating poverty. As outsiders, there is not a solution that can  be implemented. It is necessary to give them the skills so they can help themselves. The idle technology is pointless if the skills needed to operate it do not exist. Empowering the citizens to gain these skills is step one in eradicating global poverty.

Aside

Technology & Poverty

p o v e r t y. This is a loaded word that has various meanings to different people. According to Webster’s dictionary, poverty is defined as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions (Merriam-Webster).” There are many ways to define poverty that differ from the dictionary definition. The connotation that this word carries is far more than a sentence could explain. There are solutions to poverty through the use of technology in a two-fold way. The first is giving the people the technology so they can help themselves. The other is using technology to get the word to others about this issue.

Technology has been hyped up to “end global poverty.” There are many skeptics out there that do not believe this is an effective way to combat technology. The naysayers show that donated computers end up just sitting unused. It is more than simply giving technology to the impoverished countries but also teaching them how to use this technology. The technology must be relevant and usable according to Susan Davis, who is apart of an organization that brings to low-tech services to those in poverty.

While studying abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa, service learning was incorporated into our program. We were able to see first-hand the extreme poverty that exists in the township five minutes outside of the college town we stayed in. We spent two weeks in this community helping in the adult computer class. The township had a computer center with an abundance of donated Dell’s. This is one of the effective ways to give people the skills necessary so they can help themselves.

SA3

The second aspect is promotion throughout the United States and Europe. There are organizations that bring awareness like Global Citizen. The purpose of this organization is to stand against the greatest injustice, extreme poverty. They want to do this by creating action in people and bringing it to the forefront of the political arena. They have a lot of link on their site to get people involved including signing a petition to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. This is just one of the examples of organizations that promote poverty awareness.