One of the real benefits of technology we have been able to provide to rural Nepal has been to teach digital literacy skills to middle-aged women who need to get connected with their family members working abroad. Nepalese members of the diaspora are responsible for sending millions of dollars back to their home country to provide for underemployed or non-working members of their familes. This action is responsible for returning revenue back to the economy. Anything we can do to ensure this reality is easier to experience can help this generation.
This post was written by Allen Tuladhar, director of the Microsoft Innovation Center in Katmandhu, Nepal. MIC Nepal has been responsible for some of really interesting tech innovations in this part of Asia. For example, even before Nepal received Windows Phone technology, MIC Nepal held a hackathon and encouraged a group of hackers to build an app that was downloaded over 32,000 times outside of the country.
Historically Nepal has been exporting manpower to foreign countries. From very early in the 1900s and later, Nepalese workers have filled the ranks of the British Gurkha, Singapore Police, Indian Army, the Sultan of Brunei’s security and in the modern days the Middle East and the factories of Korea and Malaysia. On average there are 1,500 youths going abroad each and every day to earn a living. And many of the women back home need to get connected with them over Skype and other means, which is comparatively more economical than using conventional telecom facilities.
We set up training periods with low cost equipment and teach these women how to use the technology to expand their communications efforts overseas. The participants get to carry the laptops home during the training periods. They feel very empowered, literally showing it off to all the villagers that they are now learning a must-have skill.
MIC Nepal’s Samjhana Bhandari, a 20-something who is passionate about this outreach, carries these laptops in a suitcase and literally carries it from village to village to share her knowledge and skills, living for months as a paying guest in some of the villager’s houses. She gets to come back to her home every 3 months or so to spend some time with her family and then to hit the roads again.
During this holiday season, a training is currently going on the rural village of Bharatpur. We took some shots and would like to share that with you.