Tuesday, December 27, 2005

COMPUTERS FOR THE WORLD: A Great Initiative Of The Rotary Club

When I wrote my article yesterday about the Donors Of Computers To African Nations And Elsewhere , I wondered why I had never written about Computers for the World (c4w).

C4W is the Emerald City Rotary Club of Seattle, Washington along with the Garfield High School Interact Students and the Rotarians and Technology Teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle. C4w is also one of the sponsoring groups for Computers For Uganda .

According to their web site, "Student participants are Rotaract and Interact members with technical, linguistic or leadership skills, and the determination to help those in need. Last year our program became a Rotary District 5030 Project. Just recently we have expanded the program to Ballard High School in Seattle, and are in the process of putting together a definitive arrangement for our program and its educational activities with Seattle Public School District. We have worked with many organizations to expand our programs. Organizations such as Group Health Cooperative, Microsoft, the Gates Foundation, Alaska Airlines, Boeing, United Airlines, Rotary Seattle Public Schools and many others have contributed to our program."

C4w creates a platform for exchange among people by supplying information technology to the international Community. With this platform, they "provide for better learning, communication, and sharing of information and ideas that help people participate in the global community, while simultaneously letting students gain real world experiences in leadership, organization and international relations."

C4w is a multi-location project that:

"Takes donated used technology, (computers and peripherals) and reconditions, upgrades and networks by c4w volunteers (mainly Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Interactors)

"Delivers and installs those computers in areas-in-need, primarily in the International Community.

"Simultaneously provides an international multi-cultural experience to the volunteer participants."

To "back-up" for a moment, I would like to explain what "Interact" is.
Interact is Rotary International's service club for young people between the ages of 14-18. While Interact clubs are self-governing and self-supporting they are sponsored by individual Rotary clubs, which provide support and guidance.

There is no specific formula for the various Interact club memberships, and they vary greatly. They can be single-gender or mixed gender. They can be large or small. The members can come from the student body of a single school or from two or more schools that are located in the same community.

Interact clubs complete at least two community service projects each year. One of these projects is directed at furtherintg international understanding and goodwill. The clubs also seek to a network of friendships between the Interactors in the U.S. clubs and those overseas. Another benefit from this process is that the Interactors develop leadership skills and learn the value of hard work.

Interactors often initiate the formation of Rotaract clubs.

The Rotaract clubs are Rotary-sponsored service clubs for young men and women between the ages 18 to 30. Usually community-based or based in a local university, the Rotaract are considered to be: "partners in service" with the Rotary Clubs and "key members of the Rotary family."

The reason I took a moment to discuss the Rotaract and Interact Clubs is because c4w participants are Rotaract and Interact Club members.

C4w has provided computers to the following countries and communities:

Dominican Republic
Fijian Island of Taveuni
Kathmandu, Nepal
Colima, Mexico
Gatchina, Russia
Maputo, Mozambique
Saratov and Balisov, Russia
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Nasugbu, Philippines
Basse and Georgetown, The Gambia
Lodz, Poland
San Ignacio Cayo, Belize
Salem, India
Navajo Reservation New Mexico
St. Petersburg, Russia
Masaka District, Uganda (This is the "Computers For Uganda Project) and
Tibilisi, Georgia

In 1999, a C4W team of student volunteers, led by a Rotarian and hosted in Mozambique by Rotarians spent about two weeks working on installing computers at two of that country's public universities. Mozambique had recently been classified as the world's fifth poorest country and the donation of the computers was a great benefit the students, faculty and administrators of the universities. A portion of the money was provided to c4w by the Rotary Club was a Matching Grant. The total grant expenditures were said to be US $20,000.

The students who worked on this project had to generate their own travel funds but were given "home-stay" support by the Maputo Rotary Club of Mozambique and also participated in a "cultural experience" that was a project of the project.

In February of 2001 three students from Garfield and Several University Rotary Club members sent 50 computers to Ethiopia and traveled there to set up additional computer training labs for women and children. Additionally Rotarians traveled to Ethiopia to deliver computers to the university in Addis Ababa.

In 2002 c4w worked in conjunction with GambiaHELP to send 70 computers to two schools in Gambia. Seven students from Garfield High School set up two computer labs at Armitage and Nasir Ahmadiyya Secondary schools in Gambia and trained the students and teachers how to maintain and network the computers. They also trained them on the programs that were installed on the net work. And, as in the other programs, the students engaged in cultural experiences and had the opportunity to share with Gambian families.

The local Seattle newspaper had this to say about c4w' Gambia project:

"The organization is currently working with the Gambian Secretary of State for Education to ensure ongoing computer instruction at both schools, and is considering options such as off-hours cyber-caf├ęs to help the labs become financially viable. GambiaHELP is also looking at a follow-up project to install solar power at Nasir Ahmadiyya, where availability of electricity is often erratic."

Well, it looks like the folks in Seattle and the surrounding area are doing a lot more than I knew before. So, drop on by c4w's web site and take a look at the many computer donation projects that they have successfully completed - not only in Africa but in many other countries as well.


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