Back-to-school has been a nightmare for Terrell Knowles, and his family of eight. Before this week, his five children, currently enrolled in public school, were not able to properly access online classes. Between the five of them, they attend three schools at five different grade levels. All of them were sharing their father’s cell phone, utilizing limited mobile data, to conduct online classes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mr. Knowles, who worked in the hospitality sector, has been without an income.
The economic realities of the pandemic have hit his family hard. He says they currently struggle to keep up with payments in a rented apartment and to keep food on the table. “I know this is tough for my kids, but they are pushing through and making the best of the situation. I want them to be happy and for them to be able to log in, complete their classes and interact with their
friends. I want them to have as much normalcy as possible and not get behind on their school work,” said Mr. Knowles. This week, Mr. Knowles received a customized new service from REV called REVNet Lifeline, which provides fully subsidized high-speed internet at home for 12-months to families approved under the “E- Learning Campaign for Inclusion”. Commercially, the annual service costs $594 not including VAT, plus an equipment rental fee.
“I am beyond grateful I now have one less thing to worry about. Once my kids can focus on school, I can focus on keeping us afloat until I can return to work,” said Mr Knowles. Under the initiative, families pay $0 in service fees for 12-months of high-speed internet at home. There is only a $10 monthly equipment rental charge passed on to families. The offer is possible as part of a corporate social responsibility and community fundraising drive spearheaded by the Cable Bahamas Group of Companies (CB Group) and the Rotary Clubs of The Bahamas (RCOB). Both organizations are leading the way to close the digital divide by working to provide Connectivity4All.
“It is imperative that we address the digital divide – which we know translates to other social inequities – at this crucial point in our nation’s history. We invite all well-thinking citizens and residents of The Bahamas to partner with us to identify families in need and to make a donation,” said RCOB Assistant Governor, Carla D. Card-Stubbs The Campaign for Inclusion aims to raise $150,000 by December 30, 2020 to sponsor high-speed internet service for 500 of the most disadvantaged students and families. Applications are now open (www.connectivity4all.com) for families to request help or community members to make referrals. The Community Donation page for RCOB is also live on the Cable Bahamas crowd-funding website for non-profits, Together.bealive.com.
“High-speed internet is a necessity for our children to have access to a quality education. It is no longer a luxury. However, we know the economic realities that many face, so as a company committed to the digital transformation of The Bahamas, we designed a program that could provide connectivity in the home and on the go to the most vulnerable families in need,” said Franklyn Butler II, CEO, the CB Group. “Every division in our company, including sister brands Aliv, REV, Business Solutions and OURTV, is deeply engaged in this corporate social responsibility initiative,” said Mr. Butler. Applications for the Campaign for Inclusion are reviewed by a Vetting Committee.
Families are eligible to receive REVNet Lifeline, which provides Internet at Home; Aliv Connect and Go, which provides a device and mobile data bundle for Internet on the Go; or devices by themselves. Mr Knowles’ family also received two tablets under the initiative.
He was referred by a member of his church family, who said she was inspired to put his name forward because she knew how much he needed help and she also knew how much he also helped out in the community.
“When they were giving out food in the community, he would volunteer and help the people give out the food. I saw he was not working, and he has five children in school. He was going up and down to the school trying to figure out how he was going to manage, and I know his children felt left out. He only had one phone for the children and there is only so much a phone can take. I have a son in grade four, and I can only imagine how stressful and overloading it would be,” said Angela Murray, who referred Mr. Knowles. Now that applications are open, the Cable Bahamas Group and RCOB are encouraging individuals from across the country to visit the website, review the criteria and apply for assistance or contribute towards the fundraising campaign.