Access to computers, the internet, and software like PowerPoint and Microsoft Word can be the deciding factor in applying to jobs, doing well in school, or even feeling part of a community. For people who have been displaced and are living in camps, accessing these resources can be incredibly difficult.
In Laylan 2 Camp in Iraq, UNHCR and Blumont have launched the Community Technology Access (CTA) initiative to help camp residents learn, grow, and support each other. By supplying computers and internet access, women, men, and young students are finding it easier to complete tasks, search for jobs, study, and hone their skills.
Enaam, who now uses the CTA center every day, said she has gained valuable skills just by having access to a computer.
“My family didn’t support me in going back to school after we arrived at the camp, even though I tried my best to convince them,” Enaam said. “That dream and wish stayed in my heart and mind until the CTA center was opened. I started to attend on a daily basis, trying to get as much benefit from it as I could. I learned how to use a computer and how to use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, I wrote my own CV, and now I can apply to jobs inside the camp.”
After learning the basics, Enaam began learning to read, write, and speak English by watching tutorials on YouTube. She is also helping other displaced girls in the camp learn how to use computers to advance their own needs.
“I am delighted and full of passion to continue my journey with the CTA center,” Enaam said.
Shaalan, who also resides in Laylan 2 Camp, has gone from not knowing how to start a computer to using email and applying to jobs on the internet. He used to pay to access the internet outside the camp, and says being able to use technology in the CTA center for free, coupled with educational courses and certification, makes all the difference.
“This center has changed my life completely in terms of education, benefits, and other things,” Shaalan said. “It was wonderful and beautiful to enjoy spending useful time in the technology center. This had a fundamental role in my daily life because I was unable to do many things like using programs, create an email, and apply for jobs.”
Connecting to the online world can also provide a sense of community. Riyadh found that dealing with the stress caused by displacement, uncertainty, and isolation had begun impacting his ability to interact with the world around him. When the CTA center opened, he decided to improve his daily life by learning new skills and keeping up with current affairs.
Riyadh said the support he received has made all the difference.
“I used to live in a state of despair and isolation from all the events taking place around us,” he said. “This center has had a great impact in improving my daily life, as I was able to do a lot of work in a little time and with less effort. I am able to form relationships and friendships from different parts of the world, and I started following all the events of the world. Also, because of the center’s support for me, I can overcome the barriers preventing me from realizing my dreams of applying for a respectable job.”
Blumont’s Camp Management, Mobile CCCM, and Quick Impact Projects (C2MQ) Program, funded by UNHCR, provides safe and dignified living conditions in 10 IDP camps across Kirkuk, Baghdad, Salah Al-Din, and Anbar. Across the camps, Blumont facilitates shelter, protection, youth activities, training for camp representatives and staff, and health awareness campaigns, benefitting more than 9,200 people.