Something positive for a besieged people

We have a project underway in one of the most besieged regions of the world. In southern Israel, there is a community called Sderot. Missile attacks have been constant there since October 2000. I’m not going to get into the politics of this situation. The point is, men, women and children are under constant threat of high-explosive warheads falling on their heads or their schools or their homes. I imagine the psychological distress Sderot people deal with every day as they anticipate the next missile attack and wonder in fear whether it will their family that loses a loved one.

It’s hard to imagine anything that would bring hope to such a besieged population, other than the promise that the missiles would stop falling. However, with support from a number of NGOs, private sector companies, and the local government we’re trying to give the people of Sderot something to positive.

Earlier this year, Intel, the Israeli communications ministry, Israeli telco 012 Smile, and Alvarian, a WIMAX provider, deployed a mobile and fixed WIMAX communications solution to Sderot. It is the first WIMAX-enabled city in all of Israel. And while that solution will do nothing to stop missiles falling into the city, it will bring new access to education resources for Sderot’s young people. The Center for Educational Technology in Israel donated a year’s free access to the site “Maya’s Secret,” an educational site for ages 4-7 that includes early reading, math, games, artwork, etc., and the Second Authority for Television and Radio donated access to the existing mast at the Sapir College campus on which the project transmission equipments was installed.

We got a lot of media coverage on this project, primarily because of the novel technology. Including this one. But I kind of wish the media coverage would have done more for the city and the daily terror the citizens face: in writing the Sderot story for our internal newsletter this month, I was searching for a picture that could accompany an article on this project. But my search only turned up picture after picture of post missile-attack carnage. My heart goes out to these people….