Internet In Uganda

The power of information availability is transformative to all communities throughout the world. However, 60 percent of the world still does not have access to the Internet, according to Internet Live Stats.

The disadvantages linked to communities without Internet access are extensive. These individuals lack the right to easily access the research, educational tools, information and communication that are all found on the Internet.

After traveling to many parts of the world, one couple, Deb and Ron Plotkin decided they were going to develop an organization in Northern Uganda to educate communities on computers and the Internet.

The Plotkins saw the devastation that 20 years of civil war had left in the Northern territories and knew how great of an impact access to the Internet in Uganda would have on these communities. Their consequent organization, U-Touch (Universal Technology Outreach Community Hubs), expands access to the Internet in Uganda by providing IT training as well as job, health and life skills.

U-Touch has locations in five remote villages in Northern Uganda—Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Kabale and Mbale—and tries to find sponsors in order to educate its trainees free of charge.

Over 3,000 trainees have graduated from U-Touch since the organization began in 2010. Its trainees come from all walks of life. Some are men and women or former child soldiers that never had access to education while others are educated medical workers, students, teachers and farmers.

The educated workers that go to U-Touch typically seek specific training on research methods. Many medical workers engage U-Touch to gain research skills in order to improve their diagnostic and treatment skills. Students use the program to improve their academic performances and apply to universities. Professionally, teachers use it to gain information to relay to their students, and farmers use it to receive agricultural information that can improve their crop yields.

Though U-Touch is available to help anyone, it was created with individuals like its former trainee, Atim Gracious, in mind. Atim was an unemployed woman who went to U-Touch for an education.  After graduation, she started her own business. Atim’s business provides training in computer use, typing, printing, photocopying, binding and scanning.

Her clients consist of schools, NGOs, churches and individuals. U-Touch not only changed Atim’s life but also helped her change the lives of others.

U-Touch starts its training by teaching very basic computer skills since most of its trainees have never touched a computer before. Within 12 weeks, it educates its trainees on how to use the Internet for research, email, Microsoft Office and social networking programs. It also provides its trainees with an assortment of life, job, health, communication, entrepreneurship and digital art skills.

The skills taught at U-Touch are a critical foundation for individuals in the workforce all around the world. U-Touch has helped hundreds receive employment and is supplementing many of Africa’s growing economies that are seeking skilled IT workers. Currently, 86 percent of people in Africa do not have Internet access, according to U-Touch’s most recent records. Nevertheless, U-Touch is doing what it can to make a difference one village at a time, with hopes of completing its goal of dramatically increasing the usage of the Internet in Uganda.

Millions of young men and women living in regions of rural Africa without Internet access are cut off from the worldwide web of improved education, employment and empowerment. In an interview, the Plotkins stated they have “witnessed talent, wisdom and brilliance distributed equally around the globe…[but] opportunity is not.” If one couple can make a difference in over 3,000 lives by distributing opportunity via the Internet in Uganda, so much more is feasible with future volunteer work.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: Flickr