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Empowerment through Internet Technology - Digital Literacy

I attended a 3-week training program facilitated by the PLAN USA and CEDPA sponsored by ExxonMobil. This training is known as the Global Women In Management (GWIM) Program. It was the 59th program being facilitated and the first of its kind where it was conducted within one country for participants from only that country - This being Papua New Guinea.

You can read a bit about the program from my blog: http://agriculture.caitservicespng.com/global-women-in-management-traini...

I have yet to update and do another blog on how the program went :D

It was thanks to the participants from Papua New Guinea who attended previous programs held in the USA that identified a great need for such a program to be facilitated in-country.

The Program brought together 26 women, of which I was one of them. Each woman brought to the program, their experiences and challenges that they face as a Woman Leader in their local, rural community, most of which manage organisations and groups that serve the interests of their womenfolk. Two of the women who attended did not know how to speak or write in English and a translator was available to assist.
Each one of them had in their possession a mobile phone. Few of those mobile phones were the simple text-based phones whereas the majority had Internet Phones which they were not using the Internet features of it.
It was not until I did my presentation of my community organization, about how we use the internet to communicate, network and collaborate that sparked their interest in how they could also utilize the internet with their organisations.

That same evening after the day's session ended, some of the women wanted me to help them create their 'gmail' addresses so that they could have it on their phone and also wanted to know HOW to use the internet.
We had a 1-hour session that evening where 10 of the women attended. I asked the question "Has anyone used the internet before?" and only 2 raised their hands. The same two were the only ones that had existing email addresses. I decided that I couldn't get them straight onto email without giving them 'crash-course' introduction to Basic Internet.
We had a very intense session ( I think it was) on what the internet was, the World Wide Web, how they could connect using a USB Internet Modem and then I took them through how to subscribe for Internet Data through the mobile phone company that we all use -

*I find that many Internet Phone holders do not know that they can save their credits by subscribing to the data plans for Internet on their mobile devices. It is a great cost-cutting measure - just.

We were using the Conference Room that we were having the Training Program was, so there was a projector available for our use and connecting my laptop to it, I was able to go through with them, while they watched on how to plug in the USB Internet Modem, how to subscribe for internet data using the modem through the mobile company, then moving on to Internet Browsers, what a website was and how to get to a website.
I talked to them about what Google was and how they can use that to search for Information.
By then the 1-hour session was up, and a little pop quiz test was asked, just to test them on the new words that they learnt - eg. Internet is made up of two words - What is an example of an Internet Browser? How do you subscribe to Internet Data?
Since we did not cover creating gmail addresses we had to come back the next evening for another session. They were all very excited and I was excited too just being able to be able to assist these women come to know something more about technology.
We had two more sessions after that where we created gmail accounts for 3 of the women while the others said that they would have their daughters help them.

One of the ladies who attended went back after the training program back to her rural community and continued to keep in touch with me through text message. She asked me to set up her gmail and I did. We communicated through text message to get her to log in to her gmail account and send me a test message.
All the directions of how she would log in with her credentials and which buttons to press were sent through sms.
I was so excited to receive an email from her - from a rural community many kilometres away from where I was - she finally had access to her email account and I included her email address into the mailing group of all the other GWIM participants.
Though she still had confusion with putting her message in the subject box instead of the message box, we were able to sms some more with steps for her to achieve and for her to access her email from her mobile device.

Through this training session and experience, I am more determined to branch into the area of teaching and upskilling and empowering our rural women folk and communities and even Small business owners on how to use Internet and email to achieve their professional and personal objectives as I see email and internet a very, extremely useful tool in this day and age.
My friend Annie, she still is learning how to use her gmail and is doing well and she tells me, she would like to learn also how to use Facebook.
There are so many people in our communities who are looking to learn such important basic skills to assist them in what they want to achieve in life -but can not afford it.

I pray that my little freelancing business and service can be able to empower and achieve so much to assist the little people in my country.
The title of my journal - Empowerment through Internet Technology - is the slogan for my small registered business which at most times, I feel does not operate as a business but a charity organisation, and though I may struggle with a good cash flow for my business, I am glad to be able to assist people with their technology challenges.

As my interest has grown to focus on the use of Internet, I have assisted a number of small businesses to be able to set up their personalised company/organisation 'Internet Presence' which has able them to communicate more effectively with their stakeholders.

Getting them to move away from a general email such as company@gmail.com to user@company.com gives them a more professional look with the setting up of a simple Wordpress website which I also offer training on how they can set up and update their sites on their own.
It is a great opportunity to tap into - Educating and empowering the rural community in internet technology ie. digital literacy and for that I am grateful to be able to utilised my acquired skills to achieve this.

I really hope that I can be able to complete the Computer and Internet Technology Series Books that I am putting together to be able to be published and distributed to schools around our country.

This is the link of the Empowerment Series that I am currently working on:
http://www.caitservicespng.com/empowerment/
It is based mainly on some of the in-house training that I have conducted for organisations that I have worked with, to do with Basic Computing Skills and Basic Internet Skills.

I had conducted 1-hour session on how to use Internet for Internet Banking and Online Travel Bookings and most of the participants who attended were women and they were thrilled knowing that they didn't have to stand in long lines to just check their bank account balances and check flight availabilities.
Many voiced that - this kind of training/awareness should be provided by the banks and airlines as part of their customer service and were happy that they learnt something throught the 1-hour Internet Session.

With having digital literacy, greater and more effective and economic access to the Internet must also be achieved which is one of my visions - to become a local ISP for my community.

Thank you World Pulse for the opportunity for our voices to be heard when we can not be heard. For women in the ICT industry who would like to be able to have a voice and be able to implement their dreams and goals for the purpose of educating and empowering our fellow women folk, youth and communities as a whole to be up to speed with the ever changing world of the Information Era that we are currently in.

Please go like my page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/caitservicespng -- Twitter: @caitservicespng and my website: http://www.caitservicespng.com

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

Comments

Greengirl's picture

Wow Ccholai!!!

I feel like reading your post all over again. Your ingenuity is plausible and I commend your effort at giving back to your community. To say the least, I am inspired and motivated to do more for women in my community. Like you, I more often than not come across women who are still caught in the web of the digital divide. It is really encouraging, and at the same time fascinating that women are fast helping themselves to acquire digital knowledge and skills.

Your friend Annie is a determined woman and I am sure that with your continued support, she would also be in a position to pass on her digital capabilities to other women in her community.

Keep doing the great work you have started because you are changing your community and the world for the best.

Warmly,
Greengirl

Thank you so much. The feeling of being able to assist someone to better themselves and to equip them with knowledge, skills and tools is the greatest feeling. I wish you all the best too in reaching out to someone today - In the process -- we all achieve greater learning and inspiration from each other!! :)

-We all have a special purpose in life. It is up to us to pause for a while, identify it, grab on to it and follow through -

kellyannaustin's picture

amazing

I'm so impressed with the work you describe. You must feel so proud of yourself. You have made a huge step to empower and transform your community.

Thank you for your good work!

Peace and empowerment,

Kelly

carolepng's picture

Thank you Kelly

Thank you for your words. There is still so much to do -- and it seems there are not enough hours in the day! We just have to keep doing what little we can do -- and trust that it'll lead to bigger, greater things for all of us.
Blessings for you too!!

-We all have a special purpose in life. It is up to us to pause for a while, identify it, grab on to it and follow through -

erincriley's picture

Thank you, Ccholai!

You wrote such an empowering post about the leadership workshop. It seems like you're such an amazing person and such a wonderful teacher. I'm sure that so many people are excited that you will serve as a community leader. Keep up the amazing work that you do. It means so much!

carolepng's picture

Thank you

Thank you erincriley for your kind words. Much appreciated. Still so much to do, and so many out there that need empowering -- I guess doing what we can, in what little way, will contribute in the long run.

Take care and keep in touch :)

-We all have a special purpose in life. It is up to us to pause for a while, identify it, grab on to it and follow through -

Mary S's picture

Hi! Thank you for sharing

Hi!

Thank you for sharing your experiences of training others in using technology. It is great that you were able to take the initiative at the workshop and train others. And now hopefully they will be able to pass that knowledge onto others in their villages too.

Good luck with your company. Maybe you will be able to find some international NGOs or larger national NGOs who are able to pay you for providing training, then you will be able to combine some of the 'charity' part of your company with the 'business' part. As there appears to be a demand for it, have you asked the banks etc whether they would be interested in having you run training sessions?

Mary

carolepng's picture

Approaching Banks

Hi Mary,

Thank you for your kind comments, and for reading my post - appreciated.
I have been looking at fundsforngos.org for any grant opportunity that I could tap into -- and hopefully one will come through eventually.

I will take up your suggestion regarding the banks - and have been in contact with a recent LinkedIn connection who happens to have the title 'Bank Education Trainer' :) so I am trying to get some more further information on how we can collaborate.
Thank you for this advise :) will let you know how it goes.
best wishes to you too.

-We all have a special purpose in life. It is up to us to pause for a while, identify it, grab on to it and follow through -

Mary S's picture

Thanks, and good luck! Mary

Thanks, and good luck!

Mary

Anita Muhanguzi's picture

Wow

Dear Cchola, you are doing such a great job. This is a very inspiring story on ICT and how it has impacted on women in rural communities. Thank you so much for sharing and continue with the good work my dear sister. You are a true inspiration to all of us. Stay blessed my dear sister.

Mrs. Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Head of Legal and Advocacy
Centre for Batwa Minorities
a.kiddu@gmail.com
cfmlegal@gmail.com
Skype: mrs_muhanguzi

carolepng's picture

Thank you

I appreciate your kind words - may we all continue to work together to decrease the 'Digital Divide'

Best wishes.

-We all have a special purpose in life. It is up to us to pause for a while, identify it, grab on to it and follow through -

Kristina M's picture

Impressive

Hello Cchola,

I am impressed with your desire to teach as many people as possible on how to use the internet so they can achieve as many of their goals as possible. I hope you are able to get the support you need to continue to this and to complete your instruction books. They sound like a great idea!

Best wishes,

Kristina

carolepng's picture

Thank you

Thank you so much Kristina!! I do hope so too! that I get to complete my books and I'm thinking video tutorials too. So much happening and so little time - I just need to lay out a schedule and start making and meeting deadlines.

Thank you and best wishes too!

-We all have a special purpose in life. It is up to us to pause for a while, identify it, grab on to it and follow through -

Kristina M's picture

Great idea

I think videos would be a great idea. That way people can have a visual reference while learning.

Kristina

Jumi's picture

Commendable work

Dear ccholai, you are such an inspiration and have done such a marvelous job in your community. Keep up the good work and continue teaching the women so they too can teach others who need to know how to access and use the Internet for social transformation.

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