It’s hard to believe that in the “startup nation” fully 21% households with school age children have no computer and internet access at home.
Under the best of circumstances it is challenging for such children to succeed in school. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s impossible. At a time when social distancing is the law, and classes are held via the internet, computers have become the lifeline for every child.
“What in normal times is a disadvantage – a huge disadvantage – has become a guarantee of failure for thousands of poor kids in peripheral communities,” says Ray Mallel, a Los Angeles-based businessman who has been active since 2006 in the effort to provide disadvantaged Israeli schoolchildren with computers, internet, and the training to use them. The name of the organization is Computer for Every Child.
Working in partnership with the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, Computer for Every Child has, since its inception, provided 93,000 poor families with complete computer packages — PC, software and training, and internet connections — thereby leveling the playing field for some 450,000 disadvantaged children to date.
“During the current COVID-19 pandemic, computers are not only critical for education, they are equally important for maintaining social relationships and connectivity to the larger world,” says Mr. Mallel, who serves as chairman of Friends of Computer for Every Child. “Meeting this challenge for needy Israeli kids is nothing less than a national priority.”
Right now, Computer for Every Child is deluged with requests from municipalities throughout Israel to come to the rescue of disadvantaged households that are unable to comply with today’s digital educational necessities.
Since the onset of the virus, Computer for Every Child has already come through for hundreds of children. Operating under strict Health Ministry guidelines, its staff is literally changing lives while taking all measures necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
This past week Computer for Every Child provided 220 computers to 4th graders in the town of Migdal Ha’emek. The children and their parents were elated. “Just seeing their smiles made everything worthwhile,” says Mr. Mallel. “It warms our hearts to know that, finally, these children are not being left behind, and can get an education and participate in activities that advance their academic and social skills.”
Computer for Every Child’s work would not be possible without a very active volunteer Board of Directors, the many friends of the organization, and staff in Israel who are working overtime to ensure that every computer delivery is executed as scheduled. Children and families that receive computers are extremely grateful to the organization’s professional staff, partners and donors who make everything possible.
“This challenging time has created a genuine opportunity to reduce Israel’s digital divide,” says Mr. Mallel. “If we succeed, the entire society will benefit. The coronavirus pandemic will end eventually. Initiatives such as ours will remain, and will continue to make Israel a better place.”
Computer for Every Child welcomes inquiries and contributions from caring people everywhere. Computers are expensive. But the long-term cost of not having one are terrifying.