A message of hope from Yekaterinburg


One special aspect of the ORT network is the wide range of people the organization is able to help every year: students of all sexes, races, religions, nationalities – and ages.

So it was wonderful to hear the story this week of Inna Korotayeva, an 85-year-old student at the ORT KesherNet center in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Inna first attended the center – which provides computer training for the city’s Jewish community members – 15 years ago to take a computer literacy course. Now, more than ever, she is feeling the benefit of that experience.

“We are all in a difficult and unusual condition in self-isolation, stuck at home,” she says. “What I learned at the ORT center keeps me alive today. I have lost my normal life and my social life – but the internet is saving me.

“My interaction with my children – who are now overseas – would have been impossible without my skills: internet purchases, news, excellent online broadcasts from museums and theatres.

“Many older people are afraid to start learning, they say it is for young people. But start right now – study! It is only thanks to the skills I’ve learned that I don’t feel detached from the world and its possibilities, even by staying at home.

“I really want to believe that sooner or later this will all be over and we will be back together in class.”

During the current Covid-19 situation, experts at the ORT center in Yekaterinburg have created a program aimed at helping women acquire digital skills. Led by center director Galina Brusnitsyna, it is hoped the program will be used remotely by members of the center’s ‘women’s club’, with testing already underway and an intention to roll out the course in other centers across the former Soviet Union next month.

Sharing knowledge unites the ORT network, and we aim always to create a sense of belonging where we can all learn from each other’s passion and perspective – regardless of gender or age.