In October, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the PROSPECTS Partnership, joined hands with Hello World to revamp an existing ICT center in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement. Alongside this, together with the community constructed a Hello Hub – a solar powered internet station – to get people online and give children access to hardware and world-class educational software in the settlement.
The community in Bidibidi expressed their excitement regarding the ICT center's refurbishment and the increased access to internet in their village. Andrew Gama, a community member, remarked, "I use the internet to connect with friends on Facebook, search for job opportunities, stay updated on South Sudan news, and keep up with global news."
At a recent launch event for the multistakeholder Connectivity for Refugees initiative, John Warnes, who leads work on Digital Inclusion, Connectivity and Innovation at UNHCR, highlighted that the success of connectivity initiatives “depends on working closely with refugees to understand needs and preferences and to deliver locally tailored, community-based solutions." This is the ethos that has guided the UNHCR-Hello World partnership in Uganda.
The refurbished ICT center was named Wahda, a Kiswahili term that means “unity”. Upon the completion of the centre’s renovation , it was equipped with 20 laptops and 12 tablets, and the team are now turning their attention to facilitating Basic Computer Training. Additionally, fourteen charging points were installed at the Hello Hub, providing the community with free phone charging facilities. The Basic Computer Training program began a week ago, with Hello World starting to train 40 participants. A second group will start mid-November and continue through December, completing the training of 80 individuals in vital digital literacy skills.
When Susan Ateng, a community member was asked about her expectations from the Digital Literacy Training, she expressed her aspirations, saying, "I hope to acquire the skills to communicate with friends using a computer, learn new skills like typing, and navigate the web effectively."
By partnering with UNHCR and bringing this initiative to Bidibidi, Hello World continues to empower communities by bridging the digital divide and providing essential digital skills and connectivity. It's not just about renovating and improving an ICT center; it's about enabling individuals to thrive in the digital age. Katrin Mcmillan, Founder & CEO of Hello World, said; “we are delighted to partner with UNHCR and the Bidibidi community on this refugee-led build. Our work is designed to enable refugee communities to learn, raise their voices, improve their livelihoods, advocate for their rights, stay in touch with loved ones and live with greater dignity. It's called the World Wide Web - it's about time that was true. We are so grateful to the UNHCR for their progressive approach to digital empowerment and refugee justice”.
Working side-by-side with communities, Hello World has constructed 64 Hello Hubs in Uganda and 18 Hello Hubs in Nepal, connecting one community at a time to world-class educational software and connectivity.