Internet and smartphones have become a part and parcel of everybody’s life these days. No one can imagine even a single day without the internet. But it is not easily accessible to everybody in society. There lies a huge digital divide in the society that goes unnoticed until a story comes up and goes viral seeking everybody’s attention towards it. A woman from California was able to raise $140,000 for two girls who were spotted using Taco Bell’s Wi-Fi to complete their homework.
An Instagram user posted a picture of two girls highlighting the digital divide which is a major obstacle for the academic progress of children who do not belong to well-to-do families.
The picture was taken in Salinas, California which shows the two girls sitting outside a Taco Bell outlet so they could connect to the Wi-Fi to complete their homework.
The caption of the picture read, “A lot of us don’t have to worry about having a proper Wi-Fi connection or a quiet place to work from home. Every student from preschool through college should have free access to reliable Wi-Fi especially now. What can we do as a community to pull together for students who need something as simple as Wi-Fi in order to succeed?”
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My mom sent me this picture today. These 2 young girls were looking for a place with WiFi to do their school work so they sat near Taco Bell to connect to the free WiFi. A lot of us don’t have to worry about having a proper WiFi connection or a quiet place to work from home. Every student from preschool through college should have free access to reliable WiFi especially now. What can we do as a community to pull together for students who need something as simple as WiFi in order to succeed? Please share and tag people in our community who can help. UPDATE: THE GIRLS WERE IDENTIFIED BY THEIR SCHOOL DISTRICT AND GIVEN HOTSPOTS! I’M SURE THERE ARE OTHER CHILDREN IN NEED, I AM HOPING THEY ALL GET THE TOOLS THEY NEED! IF LOCAL BUSINESSES WOULD LIKE TO DONATE THEIR SPACE TO SET UP OUTDOOR INTERNET CAFES, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I WOULD LOVE TO HELP RALLY UP SUPPLIES AND MAN POWER! I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO REACH OUT TO YOUR OWN COMMUNITIES TO HELP STUDENTS IN YOUR AREA PLEASE CHECK OUT THE UPDATE ON THE FALSE POLICE ALLEGATIONS MADE BY A REPOSTER OF THIS PICTURE! DO HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU DONATE TO ANYONE. UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS QUESTIONABLE BEHAVIOR. HOPING THAT THOSE HELPING HAVE GOOD INTENTIONS. 😞 Although I appreciate it, please don’t follow my page. It’s only public for now because of this picture but I will be erasing all new followers. #freewifi #salinas #equityineducation #socialinjustice #socialinequality #educationmatters #wififorall #educationforall #salinascalifornia #digitaldivide #cometogether #communitylove #ittakesavillage #saveourkids #dosomething
Since the picture was posted, Salinas’ Community has shown support for girls and provided them with various resources.
The district has provided a hotspot for the family and has encouraged others who are struggling to access the internet to get in touch with the school authorities.
According to some reports, the girls have been identified as two students from the Salinas City Elementary School District, which is among the largest districts in Monterey County. One of the girls attends Sherwood Elementary School, while the other is a student at Los Padres Elementary School.
In an interview, Richard Gebin, Public Relations Officer for the Salinas City Elementary School District (SCESD) said, “Our district became aware of a post that is circulating on social media early this morning. We immediately identified the students belonging to SCESD, and since then, have provided the family with a hotspot so that our students can safely access classroom instruction from home.
We are aware of connectivity concerns and we have placed additional orders for hotspots to address the digital divide.”
Jackie Lopez, a resident of Salinas set up a GoFundMe campaign to help support the girls and the family and has received an overwhelming response across the internet.
Lopez explained in the description that Juana, the girls’ mother is a migrant worker and single mother to three daughters. She further revealed that the family was facing eviction from their rented room they were sharing.
The donations they received through the campaign made it possible to get together enough money for the family to stay in a hotel for a week in addition to providing them with food, clothing, school supplies, and other essential items.
While thanking the internet community for their support they showed to her campaign, Jackie wrote that the family was safe for the time being but they needed as much help as they could get. She further wrote that all children deserve a happy place to live in, because of the dedication the two girls showed, they deserve a safe space to learn. She appreciated every person who helped her to make that happen.
Later it was revealed that an accountant had been hired to assist Juana with the management of donations.