Computers sought for Samoan kids
We frequently are asked where people can donate their used computers.
In addition to the usual sources -- Hawaii Computers for Kids (call 521-2259) and the city's twice-yearly computer drop-off event at CompUSA on Ala Moana -- we're happy to report another option.
The nonprofit Aloha Computers for Education in Samoa, started by University of Hawaii graduate student Shawn Barnes, is looking for 80 to 100 computers to ship to Samoa this summer.
The organization is run on "donations and love" by Barnes and two other former Peace Corps volunteers, Patrick Besha and Kevin Riddle, who collect and refurbish the computers. They were able to ship about 80 computers to Samoa last year.
Barnes is hoping to collect mainly laptops this time, because they're easier to transport, but will also take desktop PCs (no Macintoshes) that are Pentium 3 or better.
E-mail Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for drop-off at a storage room on the lower campus of the UH-Manoa, where he is a graduate student in archaeology. Donations are tax-deductible.
So far, about 20 desktops and 10 laptops have been collected.
As a Peace Corps volunteer in Samoa from 2001-2003, Barnes taught math and science at Ulimasao College, a high school in the rural village of Vaito'omuli. During that time, a big event was the donation of five computers -- the first the school had ever had.
Most of the students had never seen computers in real life before, Barnes said. The school had no telephone system, so no Internet connection; and the computers had no CD drives, so the students couldn't play video or computer games.
That didn't matter, Barnes said. Many students would come to school early or stay late simply to practice typing or drawing on the computers.
Since returning to Hawaii, Barnes says he has been trying to give other rural students in Samoa the same opportunities.
"When I got back, I started hearing people talk about how they just got a new computer and now have the old one just sitting in a closet somewhere," he said. "So I started collecting used computers that people gave me and stored them in my studio apartment."
He quickly ran out of room, but was lucky that his UH connection resulted in the university donating a room on campus to store and refurbish the computers.
For more information, check the Web site www.aces-samoa.org.
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