The COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 precipitated a dramatic shift to remote learning across schools and universities in Israel. This shift, reliant on home computers, tablets, and robust internet connections, unfortunately amplified the existing educational disparities among school-aged children from disadvantaged families. A vast number of these children, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, found themselves excluded from the digital classrooms.
Recognizing the urgency of this crisis, Joseph Project sprang into action. We collaborated with the Mitchashvim initiative and the Ministry of Education, launching an ambitious project to collect used computers from compassionate corporations and individuals nationwide.
These computers were then transported to a dedicated lab, where they were wiped clean, refurbished, and prepared for a new life as school computers for the children who needed them most.
The result? An extraordinary impact. Approximately 700,000 computers were given a second life, bridging the digital divide for children in underprivileged communities across Israel and promoting equal access to education in an era where it had become synonymous with digital access.
In an apt wordplay between 'computer' and 'empathy', the project christened 'Mitchashvim' underscored the empathy at the heart of our technology-driven initiative. It emerged out of an identified need for multiple computers in low-income households, where working parents suddenly found their children homebound during the lockdown.
Our collaboration with Western Digital in Israel and another major nonprofit, Pitchon Lev, was key to the project's success. An army of volunteers was mobilized, collecting computers from donors nationwide, working at an ad hoc lab to prepare the machines, and handling bulk donations from companies or community centers.
We took up the challenge of logistical complexities, safely packing hundreds of computers and screens onto our trucks, delivering them from donors to Kfar Saba, and from there to schools, community centers, and nonprofits across the country.
A moment of special recognition came when President Rivlin attended a ceremony to acknowledge the project's valuable contributions. Our truck, symbolizing our dedicated efforts, served as a backdrop for part of the event, a testament to our commitment to bridging the digital divide and supporting education for all children in Israel.