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Connectivity Matters: NetHope opens the world in Northern Uganda

Creating connections is one of NetHope’s goals.

July 2, 2018

Hear Lillian, a 23-year-old South Sudanese refugee living in Uganda's Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, as she shares her story of connectivity, as well as the stories of NetHope members and partners, in the video below.

Creating connections is one of NetHope’s goals. By installing internet connectivity, NetHope helps global aid providers perform their work to improve the lives of refugees. But the real power is the collaboration among NetHope’s 56 member groups and more than 60 tech partner companies.

Even with some of the world’s largest NGOs and tech companies working with us, NetHope also recognizes the important and vital need to create bonds with non-member NGOs, large and small, in the countries where we provide assistance.

One example of this is the relationship that has developed with the Community Technology Empowerment Network (CTEN) in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in northern Uganda.

Over the last year, NetHope and several of its members have been providing support to  South Sudanese refugees living in Uganda’s West Nile region, which hosts Bidi Bidi, currenty considered the world’s largest refugee settlement with a quarter million residents.

Peter Batali, co-founder of Community Technology Empowerment Network (CTEN) in Rhino Camp refugee area.

CTEN was co-founded by Peter Batali, a refugee himself, to help address the needs of his fellow refugees. CTEN had few resources but a lot of heart and the motivation to provide resources for the refugees to improve their situation. NetHope recognized the valuable work CTEN was doing and its built-in layer of familiarity and trust among Bidi Bidi residents. Helping with equipment, logistics, and other resources, CTEN was able to utilize the connectivity provided by NetHope to further its programs for educational access, information related to health care, digital banking assistance for budding entrepreneurs, as well giving providing the tools and knowledge to participate with digital communities via social media platforms. This brings a sense of connectedness to a population that can often feel disenfranchised by living in a new country.

Below are the faces and voices of NetHope members, staff, and the refugee beneficiaries illustrating the impact of connectivity. We also invite you to watch and share our video where you get to hear the power of connectivity first-hand from NetHope members and refugees in Bidi Bidi. NetHope also recognizes the work by USAID, Cisco, Airtel, and Facebook in making this project a reality.

Lillian, a 23-year-old South Sudanese refugee and a beneficiary of CTEN in Rhino Camp refugee settlement.

For members, connectivity is a power line for coordinating and carrying out their work effectively. For refugees, connectivity has been a lifeline.

“To do our work, we needed better access to the internet. That’s when NetHope came in. The technology has changed the mindset of the people. We are very proud to be associated with NetHope.”

“It was a terrible condition in South Sudan, we could not endure it. We had to come here to be rescued. But now I can be with my friends (back home) on Facebook.”

Grace Becton, team leader for Mercy Corps, and NetHope member operating in Bidi Bidi.

“Connectivity through NetHope has given us the ability to more easily communicate with our colleagues in (the area), other NGOs operating on the ground within the settlements, as well as our Ugandan government partners.”

Vincent Debo, clinical officer and team leader for Medical Teams International, and NetHope member, in Rhino Camp refugee settlement.

“We need to report to our head office about all the service we conduct. With the installation of NetHope
internet, we have been able to meet (our) deadlines.”

Doreen Mugisha, IT manager for Save the Children, and NetHope member.

“We can't do our work without connectivity. If, for example, we have a child protection case and we can’t report it, that would be a big problem. It’s important that (connectivity) is always on—24/7.”

Tim Timbiti, lead project consultant with NetHope - USAID Connected Programs.

“It’s one thing to bring internet to these refugees, but it is a whole other thing to make sure it’s being used to empower them. To be able to do more when they go out there into the world.”

NetHope’s connectivity gives its partners, members, and refugees more power to intervene, influence, and act on their needs in real time.

Connectivity is essential.

Connectivity matters.

NetHope’s Uganda Connectivity program was made possible by support from Airtel, Facebook and USAID.

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