How privilege are we?

A decade ago I had the privilege to work with some of the most dedicated people on earth through a UNDP program to give access to more freedom of communication and education via the Internet to students, teachers and anybody else in my country.

Nothing would have been possible without the work of these people who were happy to leave their comfortable life in Canada, USA or Europe to help a country and his population to fight for a better life, more freedom and the right to express themselves without having to fear for their lives.

They were the pillars of the first Internet center in Libreville (Gabon) which gave us access to a new world of knowledge and experience and an infinity of opportunities of choice to change our life and move forward with so much more confidence. And believe me on this, because I would probably not be where I'm today without this Internet Center....

Today as an analyst for IBM in UK, my life is completely different than 15, 20 years ago and I'm obviously a different person too, in 1997 me and my friends had to take on a journey to have access to a computer and connect ourselves to the Internet, most of the time we couldn't use it for more than an hour because people were queuing behind us, and the hardest part of it was the speed of the connection, which was quite slow most of the day, but as frustrating as it was sometime, to have just 60 minutes to an open window on the world, each time it was the best moment of our day.

In 2008 I've got a company laptop, another laptop at home (my partner's one), a Sony PS3 connected wireless to the Internet via my HD TV and even an wireless access trough my older son Sony PSP which tally to 4 Internet source just for one house in the south of England, quite amazing no?

Meanwhile, most people here in England or wherever in most developed countries don't really know that in Africa we've got 5 to 6 computers for 1000 people and none in some regions because of civil and ethnic war which destroyed the hope and dreams of so many Africans.

And talking about dreams : Ahmed is today an outstanding student in college in New York and plays Basket-ball at a senior level, Cesar is an accountant for UBS and plans to get married next year, Charles runs is own business in multimedia and works on different projects in Africa, Didier works and lives in France after a football career in Canada, Marius is a basket-ball superstar in Morocco and still goes to college to gain a degree, path of their lives they all started to dream about at the Internet Center in Libreville, where they all spent hours and hours to build their changing life projects by gaining the necessary knowledge to fulfill their dream.

Today I'm on the other side of the window, the privileged one. And like Ahmed, Cesar, Charles, Didier or Marius owning a computer or surfing on the net is just part of the daily thing we do so often because it makes our lives so much easier : ordering a pizza, booking a flight, chatting with some friends, watching NBA TV, reading the news, taxing our cars, looking for a new job....

I will never forget where I come from and this part of my life, the Internet Center changed the lives of so many people in my country, it was a privilege to be part of it and to meet people from a completely different horizon willing to sacrifice so many things just to help us, it was a great lesson of humanity and friendship, and a fantastic reward for so many gifted people.

Thank you



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