Connecting under-served communities in Gaza

Equitable access to connectivity requires innovative ideas to reach under-served people in hard-to-access communities and places. Hello World works on bringing the internet all around the world through their Hello Hubs. Starting January 2023, 48percent.org will contribute to set up such a Hub in the Gaza strip. A Hello Hub provides reliable free access to quality connectivity and educational opportunities for school children and students. Hello World’s aim to bridge the digital divide through reliable connectivity and online education aligns closely with our program lines at 48percent.org. In this blog post we will introduce you to what a Hello Hub is and how it benefits the people accessing it.

Can you explain the project briefly?

We’re delivering internet connectivity and world-class education software to under-served communities in Gaza. Partnering with these communities we’ll be building Hello Hubs: solar-powered, wifi-enabled computer portals fitted with rugged touch screens and loaded with world-class educational materials. We’ll teach local people how to build, maintain and repair their Hub. This project will also provide the opportunity to share and teach our successful Hub model in a new context, equipping a team in Gaza to continue building Hubs.

How does a Hello Hub work?

Each Hello Hub is open to the entire community. Everyone is welcome. Solar panels at the Hub produce more than enough electricity to power it with plenty left over for the community to use. Batteries charge durable tablet computers that are loaded with educational materials. Children can learn at their own pace, catch up with lessons they missed or research new subjects. Out-of-school children can access educational resources, learn to read, write, do mathematics and so much more. 

Adults also use the Hubs to learn. WiFi connectivity means that anyone with their own device can access the internet for free, even when the tablets are being used. The Hub provides an access point to new skills as well as a wealth of job opportunities available online, and the chance to build computer dexterity.

Hello World: A finished Hello Hub in Nakivale, Uganda
(This is an example of what a Hello Hub looks like. It is not the Hub that 48percent will contribute to)

Why did you want to set up the Hubs in Gaza

The people of Gaza experience extreme hardship and underdevelopment through decades of conflict, displacement, occupation, blockade and closed borders. More than 1.4 million people, four-fifths of the population, are refugees. The population has limited access to decent work and livelihood opportunities – unemployment sits above 44% with women and younger generations disproportionately affected. 27% of the population live below the poverty line. Access to quality education in Gaza is limited – school completion rates are extremely low and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports class sizes exceeding 40, the unstable political and social environment, impact of conflict on children and high poverty levels, all contributing to limited education opportunities.

Gaza is known to be an area of conflict. How can you ensure that people will be able to access the Hubs despite the circumstances?

We are partnering with local organisations with an excellent understanding of the region to choose the most appropriate sites. These partnerships include the Ministry of Gaza, the Mayor of Gaza and the University of Gaza. Benefitting from their local expertise, we will take the appropriate precautions to make the Hub as safe as possible. Careful site selection, full participation from the surrounding community and high level partnerships all add to the legitimacy of a Hub, ensuring it stays open. 

We will ensure this project is built responsibly and sustainably. This will include community investment in the build, the installation of security lights and child-height tablet screens, and the employment of a Community Support Officer who will spend time daily at the Hub ensuring equal access and teaching Hub use.

How will the people using the Hubs benefit from this project in the future?

By providing access to education and skills resources a Hello Hub can have a powerful impact on individuals and communities. In Uganda, 97% of Hub users felt that their lives had improved as a result of the Hub. Additionally, 81% said they had learned new skills. At this Gaza Hub, we will connect Hub users to Internet platform ‘Gaza Geeks’, linking them to remote job opportunities and providing access to the global digital economy. 

Valuable transferable skills are taught to the community during the build process such as electrical and mechanical engineering. Skills learned during Hub builds are recognized with certificates that individuals can use to further their employability, which also help them keep the Hub in good working order and extend the life of the Hub.

Check out Hello World’s website to learn more about their other Hubs around the world.