A container filled with 380 computers and monitors for schools in Cameroon has just sailed from Boston. It is expected to arrive in the port of Douala, Cameroon on June 12th. The computers were donated by 15 businesses and other organizations to the World Computer Exchange of Hull, Massachusetts. The computers will be arranged in networks of computers in 34 schools with over 17,000 students in the region around Yaounde, Cameroon.
Boston, Massachusetts, USA (May 17, 2001):
The schools in Cameroon were recruited, trained, and prepared by the Exchange’s partner, the Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) Cameroon as part of its SchoolNet Cameroon Initiative. SDNP Cameroon became a partner of the Exchange in October of 2000. SDNP is led in Cameroon by their National Coordinator Dr. Wawa Ngenge (http://www.sdnp.undp.org/sdncmr/wawa.htm).
The Sustainable Development Networking Programme of the United Nations (http://www.sdnp.undp.org) is paying the shipping costs of the International Freight Transport.
Among the volunteers who volunteered for a day helping to prepare and pack the computers into the container were a team of twelve from City Year Boston and a team of 22 students from the Youth Technology Entrepreneurs chapter at Waltham High School. Sponsored by a grant from Youth Venture, some volunteer students from the Technology Project at the South Shore Charter School helped to prepare many of the computers and recruit some US partner schools.
The Exchange offers a simple and efficient option for US businesses. “The Exchange van stopped by and picked up our dozen computers and monitors. We didn’t have to pay a recycler to remove our equipment and we felt great knowing that the computers were going to have a new life connecting schools,” said Kelly Goodwin of the Merchant Bank Group of Imperial Bank’s offices in Boston.
The Exchange partners with businesses, educational institutions and other organizations to gather computers, to help maintain them after installation and to recruit both U.S. and foreign schools to participate in a cross-cultural and educational exchange program.
"Our main goal in donating the computers is to help underprivileged students communicate in a wired world that many Americans take for granted,” said Joseph H. Rossi, Tolland Bank CEO/President. “We would like to see more U.S. schools and businesses help the Exchange carry out their mission.” Tolland Bank of Connecticut recently donated 10 Internet-ready computers to the World Computer Exchange.
Currently, the Exchange is working with over 700 schools in 24 countries that are interested in being partnered with interested US K-12 schools. So far, about fifty U.S. elementary and high schools throughout New England, California and Illinois have volunteered to be partnered with the overseas schools. Exchange president, Timothy Anderson, hopes that many more U.S. companies will donate computers and more US schools will be willing to form simple partnerships with these overseas schools.
“The $80,000 worth of used computers that these companies generously donated would have cost many times that to purchase new in Cameroon. They will help students in Cameroon to bridge divides to new information, to new partner schools in the US, and to new markets for small businesses in their communities,” said Anderson. “That is why we are trying to get the word out that we offer another option to placing working computers in landfills or melting them down – we can give these used computers new lives connecting schools in poor countries around the world.”
The World Computer Exchange, headquartered in Hull, Massachusetts, is an educational organization working to connect poor youth to the Internet. WCE President Timothy Anderson founded the Exchange in 1999 with a team from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University as a brokering organization to help overseas nonprofits to prepare and connect their local schools to the Internet and to partner schools in the US. The Exchange currently sends several containers per year full of computers and is beginning to help teams of tech-savvy US students to go and visit and provide technical training in exchange for learning more about other cultures and history. For more information visit www.worldcomputerexhange.org.
The 380 computers and monitors and assorted networking equipment currently enroute to Cameroon were donated by the following fifteen organizations: Aquent, Cambridge Prepress, Center For International Development at Harvard University, Daman Consulting (Texas), Houghton Mifflin, Imperial Bank, Institute for Youth Enterprise, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Kalish Communications (Missouri), Magellan Behavioral Specialties (Maryland), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Own The World Computer Services, Radcliffe, Tolland Bank (Connecticut), the Town of Hull, and several individuals who shipped computers to Hull from around the country. Several of the companies listed responded to an article about the Exchange in the Wall Street Journal. Several of these companies agreed to give a continuing flow of computers to the Exchange whenever they upgrade their equipment.
In early February, the Government of Cameroon and the United Nations Development Programme office in Cameroon both formally included SchoolNet Cameroon in the UNDP’s ICT for Development Programme for the 24-month period starting in April and identified the Exchange, SchoolNet's partner in computer donations for schools, as an official SchoolNet Cameroon partner.
You can view SDNP Cameroon’s thoughtful and detailed implementation plan and draft list of schools at http://www.worldcomputerexchange.org/Cameroon-SDNP-Plan.doc. Their packing list / invoice and duty forms can be viewed at http:www.worldcomputerexchange.org/Cameroon-Certificate of Donation.
The Exchange has also just worked with Citizens International sending a container of computers and books to River State University of Science and Technology in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The next planned Exchange shipments will be to Nepal, Benin, Ecuador, Bangladesh, India, and Uganda.
Bridging the Global Digital Divide for Youth