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UNICEF supports young people to access information easily

By Proscovia Nakibuuka Mbonye

Robert Kulaba, a 14 year old charismatic young boy visits the Treasure Life Centre (TLC) almost every day. It’s been his routine since 2011. Back then, his main interests at the centre were playing football and volley ball.

However, this changed when the centre received computers fully connected to the Internet from UNICEF. Robert quickly learnt how to use the computer, something he never dreamt of happening at his age. “The beginning was very hard because I had never touched a computer before,” Robert mentions with a smile.

Today, his friends at the centre refer to him as a computer wizard.

The Treasure Life Centre, located in the Kamwokya area of Kampala, in the middle of a bustling low-income urban neighborhood, is an educative, informative, skill-building and recreation centre for youth in and around Kamwokya, with a mission of improving their quality of life. It is also part of Kamwokya Christian Caring Community (KCCC), which has been offering health and counseling services in the area for 22 years.

In June 2011, UNICEF installed at TLC, the first ‘Digital Drum’ - a new rugged solar-powered computer kiosk built in UNICEF Uganda’s Innovation Lab at Mbuya. For the first time, this provided children and youth at TLC, with an opportunity to learn the basics of computer, access information uploaded on the Drum and much more through the Internet. Since then, two newer models have since been developed and installed at the centre.

TLC currently attracts over 40 children and youth per day, both in and out of school. However, during school holidays when special youth programmes like concerts and sports galas are organized, between 100-200 youth use the centre’s services a day.

To these young people, the benefits from the centre are countless. Recently, when requested to undertake a school assignment on agriculture that required online research, a subject he passionately enjoys, Robert quickly run to the centre. With the help of the overseers at the centre, he successfully accomplished the task. “I didn’t spend a shilling on my research,” he says. “This wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have access to a free computer and Internet services at the Treasure Life Centre.”

UNICEF together with partners, has installed over 40 similar multi-computer kiosks at youth centres in 18 districts, helping to increase access to critical information to children, youth and their communities and contributing to closing the digital divide between the advantaged and disadvantaged communities.

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