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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 December, 2003, 08:45 GMT
'Cyber Oscar' for landmine project

By Alfred Hermida
BBC News Online technology editor in Geneva

A project which provides information technology jobs to landmine victims in Cambodia has been honoured at the UN digital divide summit.

Cambodian man using a computer
Typists earn up to $65 per month plus benefits
The non-profit Digital Divide Data won the top youth award in the first so-called Cyber Oscars.

The awards, presented by a panel of development groups, are aimed at promoting the use of technology to improve people's lives.

"They are not about technology," said Walter Fust, chairman of the Global Knowledge Partnership. "They are about people trying to help themselves and others.

"They are also about tapping local knowledge, creativity and resources at the grassroots."

Young first

Digital Divide Data won the award for its work for young disadvantaged people in Cambodia.

The project is the brainchild of Jeremy Hockenstein, a former management consultant from Boston.

Too often youth projects lack mainstream recognition, opportunities to participate in decision making, and a sense of peer community to learn from
Rinalia Abdul Rahim, Global Knowledge Partnership
After visiting Cambodia, he came up with the idea of creating a data entry company similar to those found in other developing countries such as India, but employing the disadvantaged and disabled.

Since it was set up in Phnom Penh two years ago, the company has grown to employ more than 100 people in its main office, all of them orphans, physically disabled or trafficked women.

In October it expanded to another city and to the Laos capital, Vientiane.

"Young people are at the forefront of transforming their societies using information communication technology tools," said Rinalia Abdul Rahim, Executive Director of the Global Knowledge Partnership.

"Yet too often youth projects lack mainstream recognition, opportunities to participate in decision making, and a sense of peer community to learn from."

A total of 23 projects are being honoured by the Cyber Oscars. The awards are to be presented at a gala ceremony on Thursday evening in an event running parallel to the UN World Summit on the Information Society.

The aim of the conference is to explore ways of using technology as a tool to improve the lives of millions of people in developing countries.



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