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Iwith.org Literary Contest: Technology breaks barriers


That’s the conclusión we have drawn from our 2009 Literary Contest. Among the authors, there is a girl from Tarragona, Spain, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and who has worked hard to present her story, entirely written through  Xarxa Òmnia.

Some people think Internet is impersonal, but each one of the 43 narratives received at our Iwith.org Contest, hides a story. We would like to highlight one of those works, whose autor, “an extremely friendly and kind-hearted young girl with brown hair and eyes”, suffers from muscular dystrophia.

Despite the severely limited physical mobility she has makes her move on a wheel chair, her neuronal mobility runs at a hundred miles per hour. She has not only presented a sensitive story but she also likes radio: On Thursdays, she makes a programme (as a volunteer) at Sant Pere i Sant Pau Radio (Tarragona, Spain) where she uses the nickname of “La Jutge” and she comments on aspects related to the city, health centres and socierty in general.

Her Internet connection is through Omnia, telecenters created by Generalitat 10 years ago as a preventive measure against social exclusion. Omnia centres aim at training in technologies, social and labor integration and community use. All activities carried out in them are offered for free and integrate social and technical aspects. Each Omnia Center is different and the activities are programmed by the experts working there taking into account the demands and needs of the community.

At the Omnia Center where our author attends, the expert is Concepción Ortuño, who was open to answer our questions.

Tell us about the Omnia you manage: what is it like and how did it start?


Me being a Social Worker, I focus on the social aspect, and so, I don’t consider it a telecenter but a place where people can meet and share, not only information but also experiences.

There are courses for seniors (Adolfo, for example, is already 84 years old), for kids, for young people, groups of women, immigrants and people with special needs.

For example, the first person to come had been derived by another social worker and had broken shoulders and a series of problems, caused by an accident, which affected his everyday life. At the beginning, we had a weekly session of 1 hour, on Wednesdays, to learn how to use the computer and how to go out from home (key objective). It was a success and the family congratulated us because on Wednesdays he felt the desire to get up, and the activity motivated him (he has bought a computer and wants to have an internet connection).

After him came an organization with a person who suffered from mental heath problems, and I integrated him. And alter that came the author, accompanied by the librarian, because she was a frequent user of it. She wanted to learn, and above all, she wanted to learn how to surf the Net and use the computer because at home she didn’t have a connection. So, without even thinking about it, I told her to come on Wednesday, but as it was raining she couldn’t go out of her house, and showed up 2 weeks later.

In the same period, the mother of another user appeared. He has a mental problem, and we were already 5 on Wednesdays. A 74-year-old grandfather, who comes on Mondays also, dropped by one Wednesday and asked me if he could practise with the keyboard. At that moment the idea hit my head: That could be an Open Classroom. Later came a girl that needed to make a resume quickly and didn’t have a computer. She had come to the library but it was closed. From that moment on, the classroom is the most diverse and special place in the world. That is, every Wednesday form 9.30 to 12 in the morning.

How did you know about Iwith.org Contest? How was the writing process carried out?


We always looked for ideas for the author to develop. I thought it would be good that she would do the same she had done last year: Write a literary work and present it at the Literary Contest for Women’s Day, March 8 (Ajuntament de Tarragona). We had very little time available and so, she wasn’t able to finish the work and present it. However, I didn’t feel satisfied and, being such a stubborn person, especially in my wish to make writing a channel in which you can express yourself without any barriers, I looked for contests, etc.

As I am subscribed to Canal Solidario, Iwith.org and the opportunity apperared. I told her about this and that she had to finish the work to present it. It is worth mentioning that our classroom has no adapted materials or equipment, the tables are rather old desks which have pieces of wood that don’t let the wheel chair be correctly possitioned, the table is too high and has little space and a standard keyboard. Each time our author touched a key, it was a miracle, and the entire work was made by her, except for the orthographic revison I did. The photo (to avoid problems with the license, etc.) was taken by her mother and I sent everything to Iwith.org one Sunday afternoon from home.

¿What is your opinión about Iwith.org’s iniciative?

For us, it is a marvelous and very special event. Your philosophy is the same as ours: To bring the new technologies close to everyone, and to make them not only a tool but a form of cohesion, integration, comunication among people from different races, religions, cultures, speaking different languages, having physical or psycological impairments,among others.

From Òmnia at Torreforta (Tarragona, Spain) I congratulate you for this great initiative and for what you are generating. We are happy for our beneficiary and it would be wonderful that this could be taken as an example by other people, to help them in their personal development. It seems another simple contest, but since the moment the work is conceived, until it is uploaded on the net, the contest takes place and you wait for the winner, it is a whole path whose objective is not to win (never better said) but to enjoy while living that process. 

Òmnia is at Centro Cívico de Torreforta (Tarragona, Spain) Plaça Tarragonès, s/n 43006 Torreforta Tarragona. Tel. 977 550229

 


More about: ong , internet , contest , books , iwith.org , 2009 , examples
Translation by Martha Bianchini
on 02/05/2009
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