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TakingITLocal Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Henry Ekwuruke, Nigeria Jul 14, 2005
Technology   Opinions
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TakingITLocal is an inspiration, information and learning and development project of young people working together in their local communities to take IT local and to enlighten, educate and improve on the lives of the people they find around them while knowing and identifying their needs.

To Take IT Local means bringing Information Technology to the people and rural people at the grassroots level. It means bringing them together to take advantage of the benefits of IT, to belong to our fast moving world of opportunities and to take full part in issues and policy talks. It also means being aware of what technology offers, taking their views and opinions global after all, and also taking their works and cultures global.

When you tell people of the great benefits and gains associated with Information Technology, they will go for the skills and agree with you and thereby promote themselves and their tradition and culture which make a people to feel involved, belonged, accepted and also unique!

I came to think of what to do to help people, then I decided to Take IT Local. Finding myself with the tools, I became inspired! With the possibilities and connections I have, I came to realize and understand the very great importance and relevance it will be if I put together a team and take IT local while bringing their cultures and the people’s voices and visions global.

Then with the help of a motivated student team (volunteers), who identified with my dream and vision, we started the project! We acquired a computer and a generator and moved into a rural community in Abia State named “Umualo,” where the people are inert, do not know IT yet, and have no power supply (light).

We taught them how to use the computer -- email sending and receiving; we discussed issues and themes (even politics), and we were surprised at what they have got to say to our questions and how they managed to learn fast. They were just great geniuses yet to be discovered.

They spoke in their local languages and we translated into English. They loved the computer and were excited when we told them, we will take their voices global. They appreciated our coming. The programme was designed to enlighten the rural populace of our communities, photograph them, record their views, opinions, and their cultures while teaching and educating them on the basics of the computer and the Internet. This was the first project of its kind in my location and in fact yet to be heard of!

“Ezi okwu, ihe a adi mma” meaning “it is great experience” shouted one of the beneficiaries of the project after we finished teaching them. They told us that they will now be going from their town to the cities to use the Internet to send and receive messages from their friends and relatives in major cities and in the Diaspora. Some of them confessed to their lack of knowledge about the Internet and its benefits which they described as infinite and encouraged us to go to other communities and do more. They also were surprised and amazed at some of the actions we put to them on what we can do with the Internet and the compute. They begged us to help them bring computers for them, and also the things they need in their community like water, power, and school and health care systems, so that they too can laugh like others in the cities! They were very happy and we were thrilled at their reception.

The project was initiated to bridge the digital gap and to identify needs and wants of the local people and find ways to solve it for them. The local people are further marginalized, because they have never benefited from any of the benefits of Information and communications technologies like the telephone and computer. Even postal services are not in their locations. You can find only radios that hardly work in the community we visited! We become the only light in the dark tunnel.

But with all our success stories, it became imperative that we must move to other communities with the project of knowledge and further enable them be inspired, informed and involved. Financial impediments are always an obstacle to our work -- we need to purchase some computers (notebooks), a generating set, a digital camera, and we need to pay for transportation to the villages. And we also face the challenge of a people yet to understand what the youths can do, not to mention cultural barriers to development and emancipation. It becomes more challenging to us when we face all these and still make out time to go to school in our different institutions. Nevertheless we all agreed “challenges must be,” and forging ahead and making the difference became our motto.

We have been managing to escape the illiteracy barrier and that of cultures because we speak the local languages. When we use the local language to educate and teach them and also collect their words also, but it has not been easy! Yet we must move on, life is all about trying and trying to make a difference; where things seems not viable, they are done!

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Henry Ekwuruke

Henry Ekwuruke is Executive Director of the Development Generation Africa International.
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