Organon helps young girls expand their worlds through connectivity
In a society that is increasingly digitally focused, children who don’t have access to technological resources are at risk of being left behind. For young girls, this can limit their education, health and financial well-being. In South Africa, over 60% of the child population aged 0-17 lives in low-income environments, and children in female-headed households are more likely to live under these conditions1. This highlights the importance of providing young girls with the tools and support they need to achieve their full potential.
Over the past 18 months, young children have been dealing with unprecedented challenges as the Covid 19 pandemic has brought widespread disruption. For children facing life-threatening illnesses, the various lockdowns have meant increased isolation caused by repeated and extended school closures; and for those in hospital, limitations on the number and frequency of permitted visitors. Access to resources that can enable them to keep up with their school work, and remain connected to the broader world can mitigate some of the difficulties of this time. Global healthcare company, Organon, has partnered with the Reach for Dream Foundation to provide laptops to school going girls. Reach For A Dream seeks to alleviate the strain that life-threatening illnesses place on sick children and their families by providing these dreamers with the fulfillment of their greatest wish. “Whether it’s attending online school, conducting research on the internet, compiling a digital homework project or doing group work via video chat, there’s a massive benefit for children who have laptops. Even more so, for youngsters who can use them from their homes or hospital beds,” says Dr Abofele Khoele, Managing Director, Organon Sub-Saharan Africa.
Keeping children engaged and occupied is of paramount importance.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a 20-year dropout record in South African schools. At least 500 000 children dropped out of school in the last 16 months, revealing a concerning picture of the effect the pandemic has had on schooling2. Contributing factors such as the forced closure of schools, the rotation of timetables and no access to alternative educational resources resulted in children losing interest and leaving school; while some others couldn’t continue for financial reasons.The disruption to schooling and heightened isolation is evidenced by the nature of wishes that children with life-threatening illnesses are sending to Reach for a Dream, says Natalie Lazaris, Business Head, Reach For A Dream. “What we are finding is an increase in laptop dreams. With many of our dream children living in rural communities, the inability for them to go to school due to the restrictions, as well as the vulnerability of their illness, many children ask for laptops or tablets to ensure that they can continue their schooling.”
As a healthcare company dedicated to making a world of difference for women, their families and the communities they care for, Organon is fulfilling the wishes of 12 school going girls by providing them with laptops. These will assist the beneficiaries in making up for lost educational time during the pandemic and provide them with a tool in support of their primary and secondary school education. When they need a distraction from the needles, medication and hospital environment, the laptops can also be a helpful resource for fun and games. Lazaris says it’s also valuable for children to experience that dreams can come true.“When a child is faced with a life-threatening illness, the impact that a dream can have on their health is overwhelming. Doctors and parents report that after a dream is realised children appear uplifted, happier and are able to cope better.” Each young girl whose dream has been fulfilled by Organon will receive a laptop that comes with a laptop bag, mouse and mousepad, and headphones. The total amount of Organon’s sponsorship is close to R90 000. By sponsoring these resources, Organon isn’t just aiming to give young girls access to a keyboard or camera. It’s a recognition that society must support and empower young girls because when this happens, the benefits are wide ranging. “We must also acknowledge the role that young women and youth will play in our future society,” says Khoele. “However they must overcome numerous challenges and obstacles to achieve their full potential. It is a must, therefore, to identify and address the systemic and institutional barriers that prevent women from enjoying equal opportunities in society.”
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- Stats.SA, Wellbeing of children in SA is vital for a brighter future
- National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM), The impact of COVID-19 in education - more than a year of disruption