The project is called Gulfconnect.net. It's designed to help migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates, and you can read the full proposal online. Here's how the proposers describe it:
Gulfconnect.net entails the creation of a website, an online social network that possesses the main features of any social networking facility such as friend requests, discussion boards and groups, with added features like translated legal documentation in written and audiovisual format, and links to assistance and relief in the event of emergencies or commonplace abusive situations. Gulfconnect.net will inform migrant workers of their rights in layperson terminology in workers native languages (Hindi, Urdu, Bangla, Tamil, Malayalam and Tagalog).
Why does a project like this matter? Again, from the proposal:
Foreigners constitute 99 percent of the UAE's private sector workforce, and—at 900,000—construction workers make up roughly one fifth of the UAE's entire population. But low wages of around $8 a day, financial exploitation by unscrupulous recruitment agents, routine withholding of wages for months at a time, the confiscation of worker passports as "security", unsafe work conditions and squalid living conditions in segregated 'labor camp' accommodation are some of the conditions facing migrant workers in the UAE and the wider Gulf. The exploitation is so dire that it has been described in many cases as forced labor.
If this project is funded, it will be a model to watch for organizations serving migrant workers aroundthe world. Internet use and access by migrant workers is limited, but growing.
The Knight Foundation should be commended for making proposals to its News Challenge available online in this open source manner. You can read through all the proposals, learn about innovative new ideas, and even comment on them. This way, we can all gain knowledge that formerly was available only to foundation program officers.