Cybercafes Help Overcome Alienation and the "Digital Gap"

Pastoral Program Gives Internet Access to the Underprivileged

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MONTERREY, Mexico, APRIL 8, 2003 ( The Archdiocese of Santiago in Chile uses «cybercafes» as parts of its efforts to make information technology (IT) accessible to the underprivileged.

Educator and journalist Elisabet Juanola of Barcelona, who has worked for nine years in the Vicariate of the Southern Zone of the archdiocese, a sector serving 1 million inhabitants, hails this endeavor.

«We have established a group of pastoral work of Communion and Interactive Communication in order to have an understanding of the digital gap,» she said in an interview with ZENIT.

«Over time, we have realized that we must address the challenge of communications, but we are especially interested in the issue of the new languages,» she said.

«In this connection, the most advanced initiative is the Carlos Oviedo Center of Human Education, which is in Pintana,» a municipality where delinquency, drug addiction and unemployment are common, Juanola said.

«We have established a place where there are computers, a good Internet connection, and constantly offer training and connection to Internet at a virtually token price,» she explained.

«Those who come belong to families with parents of very limited basic education, broken families, and cases of acute loneliness,» she said. «Hence, we have seen the urgent need to offer support to these family groups.

«Our experience shows that access to the new technologies can thus become a service to the person in his/her totality: in family, social and spiritual life.»

«In order to achieve this objective, it is indispensable to offer training to consecrated agents [priests, nuns, etc.] of the area,» she added. «Therefore, we organize basic courses in the most indispensable computer and Internet programs to expose them to the possibilities and risks proper to the medium.»

To pursue this objective, a Spanish-language Web page has been set up at

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