Closing Social Gaps Through Technology

Closing Social Gaps Through Technology

By: Laurina Driesse

Advancing in most careers today requires computer skills, especially in Israel, the “Start-up Nation.” However, 25 percent of Israelis are computer illiterate. According to a recent Globes report, half of the poorest Jewish families and nearly 60 percent of all Arab families in Israel do not own a home computer.

So our ICEJ AID team was excited to learn of an opportunity to provide computers to disadvantaged families while also helping Israeli youths at risk and disabled national service volunteers learn computer repair.

When an ICEJ team recently visited the Ramot community center in Jerusalem, the computer repair lab was being moved outdoors. Excited youth continued their repair work while local families came to collect computers. Our team quickly staffed tables to help distribute the refurbished computers to those in need.

Thanks to Christian donors, the ICEJ was able to fund the repair of 100 recycled computers, along with accessories and software needed for them to run smoothly.

The computer repair lab is run by disabled national service volunteers, youths at risk, and others with scholarships to study computer repairs. They attend weekly computer classes and receive a Cisco certification in PC repair to boost their job qualifications and social mobility.

Those who receive the computers span all age groups and cultural backgrounds and are referred to the Ramot center by their social workers. When they pick up their computers, the repair lab volunteers happily explain how they work.

“During the coronavirus crisis, the lack of computers among Israel’s lowest strata was painfully clear,” explained ICEJ Vice President of AID and Aliyah Nicole Yoder. “This resulted in learning gaps as children unable to attend virtual classes fell behind. Since March 2020 the lab has refurbished 1,250 computers and screens donated by hi-tech companies and the private sector.”

One couple sent a letter of gratitude, saying: “Both of us [parents] were unemployed because of COVID, and at one point, we had five children at home who needed to study online. … We did not have a computer at home, and you came to our aid and really saved us.

Through your generous giving the ICEJ can instill hope in many more Israeli’s lives.