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Hope begins in a cybrary for the young

Believing that “children are the last carriers of hope,” Hope Street Association launched recently the Hope Cybrary at Maximo Estrella Elementary School (MEES) in Makati City.

At the Hope Cybrary, students can study, research and learn about different life skills and livelihood. Services include research assistance and upgrades, of both hardware and software, for the computer laboratories of MEES, chosen as a pilot area because it is near Hope’s headquarters. It also makes Internet browsing safe from dangerous and malicious content through web filtering.

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Students must enroll at Hope Cybrary to enjoy its services. Children who pass the requirements are called “Hopefuls.”

To be a Hopeful, a student has to undergo three orientations.

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The first orientation is on HopeNet, a collaborative, multipurpose and Web-based software delivered in 42 languages to help educate children. Its services include the knowledge portal, entertainment portal, eBank account, eLivelihood, and eTutoring and eMentoring programs.

Currently, HopeNet is undergoing beta testing in selected schools in Makati City. After completing the trials in September, it will be introduced in all 28 schools in the city.

By 2012, it is expected that HopeNet will be introduced throughout the Philippines and also in China, Australia and Iraq, among others.

The second orientation is about making education and HopeNet relevant. It answers the question: “Why do we need education?”

A survey on children’s hopes and dreams is done to help the association understand and adapt its services to students’ needs.

The last orientation is on community-building teams. A team is composed of 12 Hopefuls from different fields. Each field refers to a specific skill or expertise needed in community building.

A Hopeful’s field is determined based on his/her “likes, interests, dreams and goals.” There are 10 fields: arts and entertainment, engineering and architecture, technology and sciences, environment and agriculture, protection and security, health and welfare, management and administration, transportation and supply, education and library, and service and support.

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‘Kindness’ required

Each Hopeful is required to do at least three Kindness Workz activities each at school, in the home, and in the neighborhood before he/she can join.

An hour’s worth of Kindness Workz entitles a Hopeful to five Hope-Bucks that serve as currency and can be used to avail of services offered by HopeNet. One Hope-Buck is equivalent to one-hour use of the Hope Cybrary.

Some Kindness Workz activities a student can do are cleaning, babysitting, repairing, recycling, cooking and helping others.

Other requirements for enrollment are: children must be seven to 12 years old, must maintain good citizenship status, and must make the seven promises.

The Hopefuls’ seven promises are: I have hope and I will put my faith in God; I will stand up for what I believe in; I will control my ear; I will speak the truth even at my own peril; I will help the unfortunate; I will trust in myself; and I will do no harm.

Hope Street is a local, nonprofit organization that describes itself as “a youth movement for hope, peace and knowledge.” It aims to “provide HopeNet services in elementary schools throughout the country and internationally.”

The organization started 30 years ago when co-founder and executive director Fredrick J. Lewis, then a member of the Delta Force, found himself and his team in a dire situation while on a rescue mission in Iran. Lewis vowed that if he survived the mission, he would start a group to help educate children.

Lewis said of the Hope Cybrary: “This is my dream and also the dream of many others.” Believing “knowledge is the number one resource,” he and Australian businessman Bob Murray founded Hope Street that led to the Hope Cybrary, a “repository of this world’s knowledge.”

Former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, a good friend of Lewis, said the cybrary was a realization of the dream of Lewis and others. She said she was glad the government and the public sector were working together in “empowering children through the power of technology.”

For Filipinos, this meant a portal that “is child-friendly, accessible and free,” Shahani said.

In support of the Hope Cybrary, Lewis and Imelda Espinol, English coordinator and representative of the Department of Education-Makati Division, signed a memorandum of agreement. Dr. Evelyn G. Bolivar, MEES principal, witnessed the event.

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TAGS: Education, Hope Cybrary, Internet, Philippines
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