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Finding IT Firms to Donate to Developing Countries?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the good-for-the-soul dept.

Education 82

A Peace Corps Volunteer asks: "I am currently serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, Africa and we are looking for organizations to help us fund an IT project. Thus far we have only found orgs that like to either do their own projects or send old computers. There is a large group of experienced volunteers here who just need money to plan and execute projects with in country suppliers (it's amazing how much can be done with a couple thousand dollars on the local market). Does the Slashdot community have suggestions for organizations that like to help fund IT related projects in the developing world?"

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IT-related volunteer orgs (4, Informative)

phaggood (690955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172698)

GeekCorps for tech help, Kiva for $$.

http://www.geekcorps.org/ [geekcorps.org]
http://www.kiva.org/ [kiva.org]

Re:IT-related volunteer orgs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17173280)

You wouldn t believe how good GeekCorps is !

Just look at what they do in Mali, it s a very good development job. Sustanaible, adapted, open source...

good luck though !

you forgot one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17173354)

Slashdot for business consulting.
Slashdot [slashdot.org]

Re:IT-related volunteer orgs (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173818)

Thanks for the Kiva link, very interesting. I think that that's where my charity euros will be going next.

As for getting financial aid from IT firms, I'd think that is very difficult. Firms will probably be either to small to deal much with charity, or too large to want to deal with small projects looking for $1000 in funding. But they might be sympathetic to employee initiatives.

The firm I work for allows employees to donate work time to certain charitable projects or they will help with charity drives. For example, one person got permission to auction off a closed project's equipment that was still in good nick, and give the proceeds to a good cause. In another example, the company matched employee donations to a charity drive dollar for dollar. Perhaps the OP can get help from family or friends working for tech firms (or any firm, really) to raise money for his project. If you just need a couple 1000, things like these might be the ticket. And another bonus, this way you'll get your friends personally involved in your charity. Much better than just giving to some anonymous huge charity firm.

Re:IT-related volunteer orgs (2, Interesting)

itwerx (165526) | more than 7 years ago | (#17175338)

May not need as much financial aid if you can get free [interconnection.org] or practically free [techsoup.org] hardware.

Re:IT-related volunteer orgs (1)

quixote9 (999874) | more than 7 years ago | (#17176498)

Strong second for geekcorps.org. They've done exactly what it sounds like you're wanting to do, and they've done it in parts of Africa. (Mali, I believe, for one. A very different environment and culture than Togo, but still.) Ethan Zuckerman [ethanzuckerman.com] is a card-carrying geek, was involved with geekcorps, and has dozens of really useful Africa- and IT-related links. On a tangential note, as someone who's lived in monsoonal, rainforest places, I'll bet the biggest problem won't be raising money, finding local talent, or anything like that. It'll be keeping the bugs away from those nice new bug-houses you've altruistically provided, and stopping the mold and algae from changing the color scheme on your machines.

I hear SCO... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17172708)

...will donate Linux licences worth around 700 a piece... ;P

You'd better say what projects you plan to do (2, Insightful)

quiberon2 (986274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172736)

Money's a difficult thing; are you planning to use it to deploy Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Word, or are you planning to use it to deploy Linux and OpenOffice.org ?

I imagine (though I don't know) that Microsoft might be willing to fund the former but not the latter; and that RedHat might be willing to fund the latter but not the former.

So before expecting to be given money, you'd better make up your mind what you will do with it.

Usually, corporations will give goods and services; and individuals will give cash.

looking in the wrong place? (2, Insightful)

legoburner (702695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172856)

Instead of IT firms, why not organisations dedicated to it? www.computeraid.org are the biggest so perhaps they would help out with equipment. Perhaps some of the other larger agencies like the UN development team, oxfam (less likely since they focus on more basic needs), your own government, your current country's government, and then there are many others that like to be seen to give. Failing that phone Bono.

Re:looking in the wrong place? (1)

Elvis77 (633162) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172934)

I was just about to submit my response when I saw your post. I think you're 100% correct

People who give money to third world projects want to know that it is being efficiently and effectively and they want to know that you're meeting a real need and really helping people.

I know this is nothing like the same scale but I was involved in some volunteer IT work at my children's school and most of the other parents involved were looking for an opportunity to sell IT equipment to the school but after a while we got down to just a small core of sincerely interested people without agendas.

Talk to groups who are looking to fund third world projects of various types. To get this kind of funding you need to be able to talk about your project to non IT people (so my sixty year old mother can understand it as I like to say). I'd emphasise the great volunteers you have and how much you can do with so little etc etc etc.

One other point. I note that you're looking for funding to help with planning too. There are groups who won't fund planning but will fund implementations. But there are also groups who like to fund planning. You may need two sets of funds for a project.

Good Luck, I admire your passion.

Re:looking in the wrong place? (2, Interesting)

knewter (62953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173372)

I took donations over to Ireland to set up a computer network for a Bible College there. I raised $10k or so in easily less than a week just by calling local businesses and asking for donations. I set it up so that they could donate to a local church and then the church funded me, so they got easy tax deduction without my having to set up a non-profit, etc.

So I'm saying literally start calling people around. I have a lot of practice raising donations by phone, but it's always a straightforward process. Make a list of those you wish to call, print out the giant table, and just start calling down it. Make notes by all the people as you call them each time, and it'll go by in no time.

Just how I would do it...the idea scales up just as easily to bigger donations.

Re:looking in the wrong place? (1)

lpret (570480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17174604)

I would second this. Many companies are able and willing to donate. I too have raised money (for underprivileged areas in Texas) and found the response to be staggering. Also, don't count out small companies. The single largest donation I received was from a small company with 30 employees.

I would also second the effort to go through a pre-existing non-profit as that will save you all sorts of headaches.

EWB (2, Informative)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172954)

Engineers Without Borders http://ewb-usa.org/ [ewb-usa.org] might be able to help. We just started a program in Ghana. Best of luck! My fiancee is in Cameroon with the Peace Corps.

GKP (2, Informative)

sybreon (889440) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173018)

i used to do some work for these people.. they might be able to point you in the right direction.. http://www.globalknowledge.org/ [globalknowledge.org]

Money's a funny thing (2, Insightful)

stevedcc (1000313) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173134)

Sorry to be suspicious, but whenever I see people asking for charity saying 'don't give us equipment or services, give us money', I get suspicious regarding what the money is really going to be used for. Maybe it's just me.

Re:Money's a funny thing (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173552)

There is a large group of experienced volunteers here who just need money to plan and execute projects with in country suppliers

      Is this the Togo version of Nigerian 419ers?

  rd

Re:Money's a funny thing (1)

mcho (878145) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173878)

Is this the Togo version of Nigerian 419ers?

No, this is real -- they need over $12,000 to buy the licenses from Microsoft so that they can get their fortune out of Microsoft Money. Once they do that, then they'll split the fortune with you.

See, if we all used open source software, we wouldn't have this problem...unless we have to pay SCO some kind of fee.

Re:Money's a funny thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17174960)

Exactly. At least when you donate items you know what they're not doing with your money.

Re:Money's a funny thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17176048)

Though clearly there is potentially a problem with corruption and misspent money, providing money rather than equipment or services is preferable. Money will be spent in the developing country, boosting its economy rather than the American economy.

Re:Money's a funny thing (2, Interesting)

EvanTaylor (532101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17177082)

Used equipment is almost not worth deploying. At least for me. I am currently in Kumasi, Ghana, deploying a mixed network of Windows/Linux desktops, with a OpenBSD/Linux backend.

The time consumed by supporting mixed donated equipment is massive. Also, when we asked for "networking equipment" we were given 14.4 modems (Practical Peripherals... ohh those were the days), telecom switches for phone setups, but also some pretty nice 16 and 24 port 10 and 10/100 rack switches.

And the cost of getting the items from our container shipments ran the school over $1000 USD per shipment (2 so far, third one we should get by january). Not to mention shipping them to the school (roughly 200 dollars in gas + driver pay).

Now lets also discuss the computers we got. PII 350mhz to P3 933mhz, some pentium pros, some pentiums, some sub 200mhz ppc macs. Pretty good actually, you'd be amazed how well a customized XP build with every useless service and program ripped out will run on 350mhz systems with 128mb of ram.

The hard drives are the worst problem, we need APCs (for the servers) and power stabilizers to keep the drives from dying. They are all 5-10 years old ide drives, some old scsi drives.

Thankfully I am in a very well developed nation (Ghana is pretty amazing, honestly), with a well funded school (which can afford a $600USD a month 12K isdn over radio internet connection), with roots in the states where a lot of the initial funding came from. Even so, power and internet outages, drives and PSUs dying, and dust/heat problems from the dry season are really making things difficult.

We are working on securing more funding for putting together a ULV, DC-powered, fanless, diskless computer lab (Terminals, Linux/Windows), and solar power to run it all. To keep my project from falling apart when I leave I really need to get new equipment, a powerful server with a lot of ram, and train the new staff on how to manage problems. I will however be coming back once a year for 5 years (or as needed) for deploying new hardware/software, and whatever else we need.

Simply put, used hardware is not the answer for efficient uses of time/money in a lot of cases. It's a stepping stone, it gets computers there, but it doesn't mean they will remain working. Training, equipment that matches peculiar requirements and constraints of the project, well designed deployment infrastructure, and plans for catastrophic failure are what really make a lasting difference.

OLPC really starts looking good when you think about these things.

-Evan

Re:Money's a funny thing (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17179106)

The hard drives are the worst problem, we need APCs (for the servers) and power stabilizers to keep the drives from dying. They are all 5-10 years old ide drives, some old scsi drives.

IME, the most cost-effective way to protect your equipment is to install a surge-suppressing switch with good grounding right at the point where the power company connects to the building. Lack of grounding and poor power is a huge problem here in the Pacific, but I've installed a few computer centres using this approach, and my losses due to power fluctuations are nil.

The best part is that every computer on the premises is protected. It's just too expensive to do this with UPS equipment.

Training, equipment that matches peculiar requirements and constraints of the project, well designed deployment infrastructure, and plans for catastrophic failure are what really make a lasting difference.... OLPC really starts looking good when you think about these things.

I couldn't agree more. I actually find it amusing (when I'm not tearing my hair out) that people assail the OLPC project for lack of planning, when in fact this is its major strength. It's clear from the details of the design that the people behind OLPC have thought really carefully about all the details. I guess the part that makes it hard for the rest of the world to swallow is that they're the first to actually get it right. 8^)

Re:Money's a funny thing (1)

EvanTaylor (532101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17183118)

We are using some "power stabilizers" right before the PC sockets (5000 watt support per stabilizer). It's saved us a few drives. We are however looking at setting up solar panels and hopefully switching to a DC-only lab. Thankfully the computer teacher here has quite a bit of experience with electrical engineering.

Also having problems with grounding. We will probably have to overhaul the power system here anyway with the integration of solar power here I won't have any real hardware problems.

I believe the "power stabilizers" are what you are referring to. However, honestly I don't know much about EE (more of a software person). This does just mean "It's time to learn Evan" to me, though.

Re:Money's a funny thing (1)

A Peace Corps Volunt (1037950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17182750)

Thanks for your comments! If I get the chance I would love to hop over and meet you/check out your center. How much longer will you be working there? Also, what org are you with?

In response to some of your comments...

I agree with your assessment of used equipment. After doing a lot of research I was turned off by the idea of getting used equipment donations from out of country. I think I've found a nice middle ground between buying brand new equipment (too expensive) and getting used stuff sent here (usually crap.) We have a really well developed local market for used computer equipment. I can get an ok P3 machine for about $200. At that cost I figure we can lose a couple machines every year and still be fine dealing with replacement costs. You are lucky to be in Ghana and have the benefits of its more developed infrastructure. The first time I was in Accra I thought I had stumbled into some amazing Europe/US fairy land in Africa (you have overpasses!)

One area where Togo is doing well is in Internet availability. The main (only) telecoms provider just launched a wireless internet service based off of Huawei equipment. For about $50 a month I have an always on connection with a down speed around 15k. Luckily, that's cheap enough to provide an income that can pay for a computer center.

Please keep in touch (my contact info can be found on my blog at www.aaroninafrica.com). I would love to keep abreast of your progress. Thanks for your comments!

Re:Money's a funny thing (1)

EvanTaylor (532101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17182930)

I skyped you, but having some conection issues right now. Africa online is difficult at times.

Anyway, I am here until 2008 (January) most likely, and planning on coming back once a year for 5 years (1-2 months at a time, or as needed).

If I can be any help with any experiences I've had, toss me an e-mail, or call me on skype.

I'm not part of any organization, my Aunt is Ghanaian and my Uncle asked me to come help their school. I used to be a independent It consultant for small companies in Boston, but I was looking to go back to school when my Uncle called me. So now I am doing this until I go back to college.

Re:Money's a funny thing (2, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17177356)

Sorry to be suspicious, but whenever I see people asking for charity saying 'don't give us equipment or services, give us money', I get suspicious regarding what the money is really going to be used for. Maybe it's just me.

I know, I mean "the Peace Corps"? They sound like some shady fly-by-night scam...has anyone even heard of them?

I don't know if this helps or not, but (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17173170)

you are invited to take a drink from the firehose.

A bit more detail may be helpful...... (1)

RabidAmerican (863381) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173210)

While I applaud your efforts, and am flattered that donors would be sought here, more detail is necessary. Please don't take offense....
Is this the ultimate "419"?? Is this for studying the life-cycle of the "Togoan Fruit Toad"?? Will this assist in the furtherment of local education??
Get the drift???

(BTW... Anybody know where I can get donations for a $45765876235.37 general fund I'm raising money for???)

Re:A bit more detail may be helpful...... (1)

A Peace Corps Volunt (1037950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17182860)

Your skepticism is valid. The initial post was not necessarily a call for money (although that would be nice... :)

If you want to read more about my project and why it isn't a 419 check out my blog at www.aaroninafrica.com or the description of the project at http://aaroninafrica.blogspot.com/2006/07/project. html [blogspot.com] . Sadly the full proposal isn't on the site as I don't have access to a hosting site while over here. If you would like me to send you the PDF please give me your contact info or get in touch with me directly from my blog.

Thanks for your comments.

(Interesting side note... while in an internet cafe here I happened to glance at the screen of the person working next to me. Guess what he was working on? A 419 email... So interesting to see it from this side!)

Re:A bit more detail may be helpful...... (1)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 7 years ago | (#17189250)

(Interesting side note... while in an internet cafe here I happened to glance at the screen of the person working next to me. Guess what he was working on? A 419 email... So interesting to see it from this side!)
I am not in a position to fund your project, but can I send a few dollars for the removal of one or more of this person's fingers?

On a serious note, though, it would be very interesting to see some information on the kind of things that drive people into that kind of activity. I can't honestly say what I would or would not do if faced with extreme poverty and a low-risk data-entry position like that.

Benetech (2, Informative)

MrAtoz (58719) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173278)

They may or may not be relevant here, but you should check out Benetech [benetech.org] , a California non-profit that is dedicated to "technology serving humanity". They have an impressive portfolio of technology projects in the areas of human rights, literacy, etc. And for programmers who live out there and are interested, they're hiring [benetech.org] , too.

another for the list (1)

leftistcoast (892576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173412)

http://www.computersacrossborders.org/ [computersa...orders.org] This non-profit was started by the son of on of my law professors here in Boston. Their mission is to supply computers to communities in developing nations in exchange for a commitment to using renewable energy resources to power them. An organization I'm a member of, the Environmental Law Society, has just started to contact local firms and other corporations to solicit donations of used computers or funding to assist CAB.

Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17173428)

What will the developing countries do with IT firms?

Re:Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17175840)

I dunno, I guess you might try asking India though.

Help our own first (2, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173488)

I am all for helping needy people. There are many needy people at home in the U.S. Why is it so en vogue to help foreign nations before some of our own starving people? There are some areas, like Flint, Michigan, for example, where most people are living below the poverty line. Are there any other people out there troubled by this? I, for one, am. Since we are in the season of giving, I implore you to consider donating to a charity that helps domestically. After all, how, in good conscience, can we help other nations when some of our own citizens suffer?

Re:Help our own first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17173570)

Because we're all greedy americans, the streets are paved with gold, and we're right bastards for exploiting the world instead of helping them by giving them a handout!

Seriously, the reasons are many and varied. For starters, citizens of other nations, just like citizens of the US, are idiots. They'll believe what they see from Hollywood is a prime example of a country's culture, diversity, ethics, morality and - economics.

Second, nothing says, "I'm a good God-fearin' Christian!" like giving a meagre loaf of bread to some starving African. Never you mind the fact that it'd be better to give third world nations access to better farming technology, education, infrastructure, et cetera so they can provide for themselves (this is, of course, actually done as well - but the priority never seems to be on it). Getting a picture taken with someone whose ribs you can see generates more 'goodwill' than getting your picture taken next to a tractor, despite the fact that the tractor will have a better benefit.

Finally, who cares about US citizens? Other US citizens don't. Why, anyone on welfare is lazy. Can't afford to eat? Get a job, you fucking piece of trailer trash. Back in my day, we had to walk uphill both ways in the snow, we worked for a living, rabble rabble rabble, why I have ten cars and my parents paid for my education at Harvard! There's no excuse for poverty!

Sorry for the rant - let me sum it up for you:

Why do other nations get aid before our own citizens? Because people are fucking morons.

Re:Help our own first (1)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173672)

Whilst I would agree with you to a degree, and the fact that the western nations do bear a degree of responsibility in assisting the developing world, since a large reason why they're in such a shitty place is because we put them there through loans and wars etc. That being said, why care about what country these people are coming from? They're in need, often dying of things that in western countries would bring shock and outrage. Doesn't matter what country they're from, they're people. We're all members of the same species. It is right to help if we can.

In fact, they should hit up China or EU as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17173940)

America is being driven into massive debt (federal and trade). Back in the 50's, 60's, and even into the 70's, America was rich. But Reagan and new W. have done all that they could to put more money in their rich friends pockets and take from the middle class. What is amazing is that middle class bought in to it for 16 years worth. We are doing to ourselves what normally requires a corrupt dictator to do.

Re:Help our own first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17174320)

Why would anyone want to help when they are subject to this type of criticism? It looks like you are more interested in putting down others than in helping. So if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

Re:Help our own first (1)

einar2 (784078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17174618)

Why do you think it is more important to give to people in need in your own country?
Are they "better" poor people?
Do you judge people by their citicenship?

Re:Help our own first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17175018)

"Why do you think it is more important to give to people in need in your own country?"

1: It's going to cost less than shipping care packages halfway around the world.
2: Better return on investment. Your own economy is helped if you can get these local people back on their feet.
3: What's the point of giving the world handouts at our own expense?

It's not logical to help others at your own expense. You have no guarantee that they will turn around and return the favor if you've worked yourself into a hole.

Re:Help our own first (1)

jthayden (811997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17175160)

1: It's going to cost less than shipping care packages halfway around the world.

You have a deep misunderstanding if you think what the Peace Corps does is make care packages.

2: Better return on investment. Your own economy is helped if you can get these local people back on their feet.

Maybe ROI shouldn't be measured in terms of money but in terms of people helped and by how much.

3: What's the point of giving the world handouts at our own expense?

See my response to point one, but maybe it's to help people. You seem to identify with people in Flint and such but not with others around the world. That's fine, but others may identify with anyone in need and try to help those that need it most. I suspect that a person is much better off being bad off in Flint than in Tongo.

It's not logical to help others at your own expense. You have no guarantee that they will turn around and return the favor if you've worked yourself into a hole.

Once again, it's not about a guarantee, it's about helping. For some people knowing that they helped is reqard enough.

Re:Help our own first (1)

zandermander (563602) | more than 7 years ago | (#17174672)

My brother once said something similar. He questioned why I needed to go halfway around the world to help people when there were people in our own backyard who needed help.

Besides the obvious fun of it all - traveling to foreign lands, meeting foreign people, eating their amazing food, learning their language, ... - I responded by saying to him "America is the most powerful country in the world - we have the largest military and the largest economy. Given this, where does our backyard really end?" You can't say it ends at our borders because so much of our economy is dependent upon trade and manufacturing that occurs outside of our borders. Where were the computers we are so fond of manufactured? Where were our clothes made? I bet your TV was not made in America. Do you like to eat apples in May? You can eat fresh apples in May because they are imported from the southern hemisphere - places like Chile, Argentina...

So, to be hard-nosed about it, helping those people in other countries has some very selfish motives - it helps us and even helps those people in Flint, Michigan.

Peace Corps has a hidden agenda! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17175084)

Many believe the Peace Corps to be a noble exercise aimed at bettering living conditions in less developed countries. Other's believe it's designs are 'shoe in the door' to USA cultural imperialism including our consumer economy and the evils of capitalism. There are even a few who are convinced it's yet another CIA project(aimed at improving the USA gene pool with hardy rainforest 'stock') only better obscured than UFO's, chemtrails, and global warming.

They are all missing the point. The biggest benefit of the Peace Corps is the understanding of foreign culture that the volunteers bring home to share with their fellow USA Americans. Consider your six degrees of freedom in the light of ignorant conversation revolving around 'those people in '. More often than not someone will say, "No, it's not like that. My sister's boyfriend's stepmother's cousin's son was having an affair with his high school biology teacher and she told him that she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in and that the natives only eat their autistic children. By the way they are quite tasty."

Interested in your results... (1)

ChzMstrX (557076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17173790)

I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin (your next door neighbor!) with the same hassles of funding. Hope some good ideas come out of this!

We should give of ourselves (2, Interesting)

jetcityorange (666232) | more than 7 years ago | (#17174614)

Change begins with the individual. I own a small software company and we tithe ourselves [azalea.com] . Like most geeks we have too much h/w and s/w. Part of our give back is recycling perfectly useable technology to others like the Tibetan Technology Center. In addition to cold hard cash, we've sent them our "extra" 802.11g routers, adaptors, and antennas. We learned of this project on wired.com (or was it /.?). As long as we're going to pay Speakeasy for hosting and several DSL lines, why not piggyback DSL for two senior housing communities here in Seattle trying to jumpstart connectivity for their residents? My point is that even small organizations and even focused individuals can have a relatively large impact. By linking to some of the organizations we support we've set an example for others. Discussions have been sparked and one company stepped to the plate and offer to write code pro bono for the Tibetan Technology Center. Charity spreads. Having been introduced to Outside the Dream [outsidethedream.org] , my two sons and are starting a grassroots effort to help them. The modest amount of citizen involvement I've done over the years has taught me that not all good comes from the Fortune 1000 and their related charitable arms. Look in the mirror. The revolution begins with me.

Re:Interested in your results... (1)

A Peace Corps Volunt (1037950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17182766)

Isn't it sad how the Peace Corps sends us over here and then leaves us few options for finding money to do real work?

If you are ever in Sokode (about an hour south of Kara) feel free to give me a call! My contact info is on my blog at www.aaroninafrica.com.

Give a man a fish... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17173798)

Suggest donating money to help the people in developing nations and get a positive response on Slashdot. Hire people in developing nations so they don't need charity and you'll get an angry protectionist tirade.

A good proposal will generate funding. (1)

gp310ad (77471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17174230)

Perhaps you'd find benefit from a /. review of your proposal as a supplement to the /. sponsor map. RPCV(Fiji '76)

Re:A good proposal will generate funding. (1)

A Peace Corps Volunt (1037950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17182794)

I would love a review of my proposal. Sadly I don't have access to a hosting site over here (or back at home) and have nowhere to post it. I could send it to you if you would like to take a look at it. My contact info can be found on my blog at www.aaroninafrica.com.

Thanks for the offer!

For what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17174292)

Why do you need money? I am no fanboy for anyone...I use MS for most of my current work, but have used *nix exclusively at every level in past jobs. If you have sufficiant hardware donations, and the software to do *anything* needed in a 3rd world is free, all you have left is labor and logistical expenses (and utility bills of course, but you won't get many people willing to pay someone elses electricity bills this time of year, let alone their own). It sounds like labor is not an issue for you. So is it logistics?

Remember that 99% of specialized hardware out there can be duplicated with low end, yesterday's technology, and a good skill set, and freely available software with little to no modification. It might not be the preferred solution, but it is being given....so no one can gripe. If they do, move your efforts to the next village instead.

What kind of project? (3, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17174394)

You just state that you want to do "an IT project". Not to discourage you but there are many eager techy people who want to parachute in and drop "an IT project" on a developing country without much thought to what they are trying to do and how it will be sustained after they leave.

You do seem to have a start in that you want to use local people and hopefully these people will be trained well enough to continue the project after you leave.

If you put together a thorough project proposal that includes all of the messy details of WHAT the project will do, HOW the information will be used to improve something, HOW it will do it, HOW it will be implemented, HOW it will be sustained, etc. they you may be able to apply for funding from the many NGOs and bilateral aid agencies that do have money and an interest in ----- (insert your project here).

Re:What kind of project? (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17179226)

If you put together a thorough project proposal that includes all of the messy details of WHAT the project will do, HOW the information will be used to improve something, HOW it will do it, HOW it will be implemented, HOW it will be sustained, etc. they you may be able to apply for funding from the many NGOs and bilateral aid agencies that do have money and an interest in ----- (insert your project here).

I wish it worked like that. I honestly do. Experience has taught me otherwise.

The big problem that one faces when designing IT development projects is understanding. There are a million and one organisations out there that will throw PCs, volunteers, building supplies, etc. at an IT project. It's a really 'sexy' thing to do right now. But doing it right it sometimes almost impossible. On more than one occasion, I've had to hold my nose and accept money for a project that I know is doomed to failure, because nobody will listen to me when I explain, in painful detail, why it's not going to work.

So I accept the equipment and the money, do what I'm told, and then spend the rest of my time preparing the people using the equipment to cope with the shortcomings of the project.

I think the submitter has an exceptionally important point to make, one that you might have missed: Most donors don't know jack shit about what the real requirements for a given project are. Most of them never will, because there's simply no one in the organisation who has a clue about IT. So looking for a clueful donor who's willing to give money and get out of the way is the right thing to do, if a little idealistic.

The reality lies somewhere between your suggestion and his, of course. But I'd always rather aim for the 'give me the money and get out of my way' approach than do the Donor Dance.

Re:What kind of project? (1)

A Peace Corps Volunt (1037950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17182612)

Thanks for your comments! I do in fact have a proposal. Check out the outline of the project at http://aaroninafrica.blogspot.com/2006/07/project. html [blogspot.com] . Sadly I don't have a hosting services while I am here. If you would like to see the entire proposal check out my contact info on my blog and send me your email address. I am hoping to get a friend to post the proposal somewhere. Hopefully that will be up soon.

I do agree with you when you talk about the potential pit-falls of a project like this. You make a good point of the IT project "parachuted in from above." I would go so far as to say that sadly, most development work is done that way. My project is different (i hope) in a number of ways. First, as a Peace Corps Volunteer (other PCVs and RPCVs can back me up here) I have a pretty good feeling for my community. I live, work and eat with the people I am doing this project with. That gives me a little more perspective and hopefully I have added that into the proposal that I have written. Second, you make a valid point as to the necessity of training. I feel lucky in that I have found a way to do this where I already have a group of able, dedicated people to help make this project work.

Thanks again for your comments.

Re:What kind of project? (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17185882)

Arron, It does appear that you have thought carefully about your project and as a Peace Corps volunteer, you have made a longer term commitment to the community than is usual for the usual "parachute" aid.

It appears that your project will focus on basic computer literacy skills and this will be a good thing for the community. It appears that you have also made a good effort to make the project sustaining with a combination of donations for startup and private/public sector funding.

Best wishes to you and for success with your project.

Resources (2, Informative)

zandermander (563602) | more than 7 years ago | (#17174580)

I was a PCV (Thailand) and also worked at PC HQ for a while doing fundraising. In addition to this, I raised over $25K while a Volunteer for various IT projects. This was back in the mid-90's when Volunteers were discouraged from this sort of thing because it was seen as "inappropriate". Luckily I have a rebellious streak.

But I digress...

The fabric of funding available in each country is different but you need money - not IT because you're going to go buy it. After I solicited donations of used equipment, I often found used equipment to be more trouble than it was worth and with a small amount of moeny I could go buy/build new stuff. So you're on the right track.

Sources: try embassies. I solicited funds from EVERY embassy in Thailand. Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia gave me the most money. I expected a European country to give the most. Also look into Chambers of Commerce. There are a LOT of gov't aid organizations (USAID, for example) and NGOs out there who might fund you. Look into the USAID publication which lists everyone who receives money from them. It is published annually and is a GREAT resource for people who might fund you. Regional politicians are a good source - try the governor of your province. I developed a great relationship with mine and he helped me a LOT in several situations. Also try the Peace Corps Partnership Program. It's often slow but can provide a lot of money.

Just because these people are giving you money, don't look at it as a donation. It's not. They want something in return. What can you give them? Good will. Be absolutely sure to take LOTS of pictures of cute little kids with the computers you buy/build. Do what you can to get these pictures printed in the local/national papers. Again, develop relationships with people in the newspapers and your pics/press releases will get published more often than not. Make up certificates and send to donors, invite them to "dedication" ceremonies (9 times out of 10 they won't come but will be happy to have been invited). Repeat customers are much cheaper and easier to acquire than new customers - once someone has given you money, wait a few months and hit them up again.

Don't forget that you're going to leave in 2 or so years. Training is FAR more important than the actual equipment. Build capacity. Teach people how to build/repair their own macines, teach them how to use the machines. If you don't build capacity you're wasting your two years there. I wasn't trying to but did so out of dumb luck - I taught a few coworkers how to use the machines and a few students how to build/repair them. Unknowingly at the time I launched a few IT careers...

Finally, here's a link to a manual [ericzander.com] I produced way back when but is still being used by Peace Corps Thailand. It is old and somewhat country specific but there's a lot more of my "lessons learned" in there than I write here.

Good luck!

~ZanderMander

Re:Resources (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17175436)

Be absolutely sure to take LOTS of pictures of cute little kids with the computers you buy/build.

      In this dude's blog (and I didn't see anything in the first few entries that ruled out being a setup for a scam), he says there is one paved road in the country. He says he gets on the internet with one low baud dialup shared by an internet cafe. Says it took 30 minutes to read his first email.

      What would they do with a computer?

  rd

Re:Resources (1)

zandermander (563602) | more than 7 years ago | (#17177064)

What would they do with a computer?


You ask a very good and legitimate question. One which I was asked a lot and some very bright minds in the development field used to ask also. Answer is that they would do the very same things with a computer you and I do. They use it for typing, data manipulation (spreadsheets, analysis, bookkeeping, ...), playing games (yes, even people in developing countries like to play games. In fact, it is the game playing that often keeps community computer centers in business), checking the weather, .... lots of things.

Computers are tools just like a hammer and shovel. Yes, they require a higher level of infrastructure to use/maintain than the hammer and shovel but with this higher level of infrastructure they also provide a much greater "leverage" on the user's efforts than the hammer/shovel.

In my school (back in Thailand in '95) the teachers had been grading students the same way as every other teacher in Thailand - by hand. At the end of the school term this consumed about three days of each teacher's time. With my help we acquired some computers, a large printer (thanks to HP in Thailand) and developed spreadsheets to assist with grading. This system reduced end-of-term grading from three days down to about 4 hours of work.

With 2.5 days saved, the teachers could spend more time developing lesson plans, getting training, etc. Essentially, the system allowed an increase in teacher productivity which multiplied many times over many occupations, increases a country's productivity and level of wealth.

Keep in mind that my school had intermittant electricity, intermittant running water and the road outside the school had only recently been paved when I got there (paving the school driveway was one of my projects). This was not a city school by any means. At the time I was there, someone with basic computer skills (what we were teaching the students) could make about twice as much money as someone without. That extra money is the difference between having to be a rice farmer (there are few jobs more difficult and back breaking than rice farming), where you may or may not eat, may or may not pay the bills, and having a comfortable living, sending your kids to school, etc.

Here's a few other examples of how computers/technology can drive change where many of us from developed countries might question it:

Indian fishermen's lives changed by cellphones [washingtonpost.com]

Grameen Bank [wikipedia.org] - people told Yunus poor people weren't worth lending to (kind of like the argument that poor people don't need computers)

I could go on and on about this topic as you can tell... Also highly recommended is to read the book "The Ugly American". There is a LOT of truth in that book.

~ZanderMander

Re:Resources (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17177314)

checking the weather

      You didn't understand, there is no internet access for these alleged gift PC's. In addition, how did "plan and execute projects" become "build/buy PC's for kids".

      Also in addition, anyone who thinks you can build a PC cheaper in Africa than the $300 PC's that come out of China is rather oblivious.

      Remember, this alleged Peace Corp guy said I don't want hardware or software, I want money.

      Really clueless scam.

  rd

Re:Resources (1)

zandermander (563602) | more than 7 years ago | (#17177796)

(This'll be my last comment on this as I've had this discussion oh-so-many times with people like you and I get tired of it)

OK, so they don't have internet access today and they can't check the weather. Who's to say the PCV's next project won't be to set up a wireless network? Who's to say they won't soon be getting telephone and dial up in his area? There are a lot of amazing things going on in this area. Here's one of my favorite: Jhai [jhai.org] . Granted, you did point out one thing they can not do today with computers which I stated they could, what about all of the other things? Spreadsheets? Students learning? Bookkeeping? Computers are multipurpose tools. Not having an internet connection does diminish the value of them but, as I demonstrated when I was a PCV, by no means eliminates their value.

Building/buying PCs requires a lot of planning and execution. Having lived in the rice fields of central Thailand and spent many days traveling back and forth between my village and Bangkok, I know this from personal experience. It is not easy and this PCV should be commended for his efforts.

There is a big difference between buying a bottom-of-the-line PC over the internet here in America and buying a PC in any developing country. When I was a PCV I did not buy bottom of the line PCs because I knew they would be obsolete way too quickly. We ended up with 35 mid-level machines and we assembled them ourselves. part of this was due to cost and part due to my desire to teach people.

I can not speak for Togo but I can say that here in the US and in Thailand is is almost always cheaper to buy the components and assemble a machine yourself than it is to purchase a machine of the same specs. When I was a PCV that difference was about $300 but machines were expensive in Thailand at the time. When I last built a box here in the US I did a lot of research and saved about $200 building my own machine. Of course I spent my time instead of my money by assembling these machines but I enjoy it and when I was in Thailand I taught a group of students how to do it. Several of them went on to technical school/college to pursue computers - directly because they were exposed to them. Until I came along they had never used or knew anything about computers. So we saved money and built capacity. Pretty good value if you ask me.

The last point I will address is the one which makes me mad because it is clear to me you have not done any research before making such asinine comments as "Really clueless scam".

I suggest you head back to Aaron's blog [aaroninafrica.com] . Click through to see his project listing on the Peace Corps site [peacecorps.gov] . Now, I used to be the director of the Peace Corps Partnership Program [peacecorps.gov] - the part of the Peace Corps he is using to help fund his project. If you actually read and research, which you clearly haven't, you might find that the PCPP raises a lot of money for PCVs in country and there is a lot of oversight of these funds. Oversight includes the staff here in Washington, DC accounting, accounting in-country by Peace Corps Staff, project oversight, project reviews, etc. You could even do a FOIA request to learn more about the oversight on a particular project if you wanted. Like I said, I know all this because I used to be director of that program and I fielded many a complaint by donors and Volunteers alike that we added too much red tape. I agree, there is a lot of oversight but it is necessary to maintain the integrity of the program.

In one of my parent comments I mentioned that "in-kind" gifts are not all they are cracked up to be. Early on when I was a PCV I solicited used computers and they were a serious headache. Some worked, some didn't and they all broke fairly quickly. It was just as easy/hard (depends on your point of view) for me to raise money as it was to secure funds to buy parts to build computers so I fairly quickly shifted to soliciting funds - just like Aaron is doing.

Like I began this post with, this'll be my last comment in this thread. I've dealt with many people like you in the past and I doubt anything I write or any link I direct you to will convince you of the truth of what Aaron is doing or the Peace Corps does. but I also doubt you have ever actually been to a developing country, slept under a mosquito net, had (or risked having) Dengue fever, malaria or dysentary. I doubt you have ever spent days traveling on hot, dusty buses through parts of the world where no westerner has ever trod. I doubt you would ever do any of these things because it is much easier to sit in your basement disparging people on Slashdot who are doing all of these things. It is people like you who REALLY need to read The Ugly American [amazon.com] because you represent the typical American the book portrays.

~ZanderMander

Re:Resources (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17177932)

.
      First of all, I did look at his blog, and like I said, I didn't see anything in the first several posts that ruled this out from being another African scam.

      Secondly, building PC's from parts cheaper was a few years ago. You can't beat the price of all in one motherboard PC's now. You can't even come close. I mean, remember, you guys are also saying "it's not worth the bother to work with old PC's". It'd be different if you wanted donmated hardware to do your thing with.

      Lastly, if you are trying to convince people that the Peace Corp wants to do projects like a wireless network when the people don't have food and water and medicine and paved roads, then I'd say you and the Peace Corp have screwed up priorities.

      The dude we're talking about has his priorities. He wants money.

  rd

     

Re:Resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17179680)

rd, have you ever thought that you can do *gasp* more than one thing at a time. The guy even says that paving was a job he had in parallel to the IT project.

Re:Resources (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17179720)


      No, I *gasp* think he's full of crap.

  rd

Re:Resources (1)

EvanTaylor (532101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17183062)

Sorry, but support/maintenance/training costs and time are simply horrendous for mixed used equipment. If you want a project like this to succeed you need to use either locally available products (Hard for Togo) or build your own buying multiples of the same equipment (which is cheaper, perhaps not initially, than buying crap 300 dollar value PCs that will simply die or be unstable).

Real IT Departments don't buy cheap PCs, they buy many of a few different models of computers depending on what the company needs, because experience in real IT has shown that support/downtime/deployment costs are tremendous with anything different. Also, in projects like these, there are embedded motherboard/cpu combos (fanless, ULV, cool stuff) that may be better.

Re:Resources (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17184554)

If you want a project like this to succeed you need to use either locally available products (Hard for Togo) or build your own buying multiples of the same equipment (which is cheaper, perhaps not initially, than buying crap 300 dollar value PCs that will simply die or be unstable).

      So when I started out, it wasn't good enough for me to have a TRS-80 with a tape drive (on which I taught myself BASIC and Z-80 programming), but instead had to have an "in country supplier" hand build me an IBM PC because what I had wasn't good enough?

  rd

First outsourcing... (0, Flamebait)

Unique2 (325687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17174950)

First outsourcing, now your just going to give IT firms away?

What kind of projects? (1)

jthayden (811997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17174952)

Somewhat off topic, but I'd be interested in hearing about the types of projects. I've been very tempted by the Peace Corps in the past but have been reluctant since I didn't feel my skills would lend themselves to agricultural type projects. What kind of opportunities are there in organisations like this for someone with Economics and CS degrees and quite a bit of corporate IT experience?

Re:What kind of projects? (1)

Spince (1003216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17177170)

The common misconception about Peace Corps is that it's all agriculture or bridge building and stuff. However, the reality is now that more and more developing countries want people skilled in other areas, this is especially true in places like Eastern Europe and Central Asia, in many of the former soviet states. I'm currently a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan, and I teach english at a local university. I'm also in the midst of trying to get funding to develop a business center for my university since they're poor as hell and don't have anything like projectors and computers to learn on. In addition, our program here also hosts NGO volunteers, who come and work with local NGOs and help them with projects and developing their body of work. But in general, I was a Political Science and Legal Studies major back in college, but I worked as a writing tutor for about 3 years. As a result, I've ended up as an English Teacher here in Kazakhstan and I'm loving every second of it. With your degree, you could go teach computer classes in Eastern Europe, or you could work for technology NGOs and help get local communities educated on it. Teaching is also a path, you could teach math or economics (hell, maybe even CS) if your placement has stated a desire need for that sort. I'd recommend that you email or talk to your local recruiter, and they'll probably give you a better direction and can stay specifically what kind of programs are available. I know for a fact that there are countries that are requesting technology volunteers, however.

Re:What kind of projects? (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17179280)

What kind of opportunities are there in organisations like this for someone with Economics and CS degrees and quite a bit of corporate IT experience?

GeekCorps [geekcorps.org] , VSO [vsocanada.org] and CUSO [cuso.org] (if you're Canadian) all have pretty good opportunities for IT volunteers. (VSO Canada accepts applications from permament residents of the US and Canada.)

I hear these guys got some cash lying around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17175884)

Try these guys http://www.gatesfoundation.org/ [gatesfoundation.org]

OK (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17176120)

I'll donate Microsoft. What are planning to use them for? Cannon fodder in one of your interminable little wars seems like a good idea. If you'd like, we can send you Oracle, as well, but you'll have to keep Larry and Bill in separate cages.

Why does money go further there? (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#17176330)

money to plan and execute projects with in country suppliers (it's amazing how much can be done with a couple thousand dollars on the local market).
How can computers be cheaper there, when they're all made in China anyway?

Re:Why does money go further there? (1)

A Peace Corps Volunt (1037950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17182886)

You are very right. New computers are the same price here as they are in the US or Europe (usually even a little more expensive.) What there is a great market for used computers. I can get a P3 with keyboard, monitor, and mouse for about $200. While not the highest quality they will last at least 2 years, enough time for them to recoup their initial cost and pay for replacements. I have found that unless you have tons of money to pay for a sterile lab (ie. Air-Con, sealed windows, etc) this environment is REALLY harsh on machines. We figure we will pay a little less for the machines with the assumption that we will be replacing them.

Thanks for your comment!

Have you considered the OLPC project? (1)

Mad Sc13ntist (1037766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17176506)

the $100.00 laptop project might be of some interest to you. It sounds like you may be just the sort of project they are working with these days. http://wiki.laptop.org/ [laptop.org] http://www.laptop.org/ [laptop.org] I beleive there is a prodgram here as well... but i think it is mostly old/recycled hardware. http://www.marketvelocity.com/ [marketvelocity.com]

It will all be used for spam and phishing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17179446)

No thanks, I don't want to contribute to more nigerian spam emails and third world crime lord financed phishing.

Why Money, PeaceCorps tasks & donate your brai (2, Informative)

LieNjie-PCV (1037746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17179958)

Great post! I am also a Peace Corps Volunteer. I'm serving in The Gambia in West Africa, and I have been facing much of the same issues. Here's some quick responses to a few of previous posters' questions:

* Why money and not (just) hardware? Local monies support local IT businesses and help fuel self-sustaining solutions. Donations of hardware without monies to support them (one of the single biggest problems I've seen with donations) are the most common donations, but unfortunately generally lead to hardware lying around useless because there is no power to run them, or no money to pay for technicians to fix them. If you want to help, and want to help by donating hardware, make sure you also donate a budget for maintenance AND power.

* What IT projects are available in the Peace Corps? Every country has a different set of projects, but the general motivation is helping countries build sustainable IT (aka ICT) infrastructures. Here we are primarily focused on teaching IT at the schools and helping the government effectively use the IT they have including lots of database work. Many volunteers here help set up and maintain hardware while they teach basic computing. Other countries have small business development projects that include IT implementation projects.

* What can you do other than donate money or hardware? Donate your time. Donate your brain. Donate the experience you were lucky enough to have a chance to get. Even if you can't spare two years to do something like Peace Corps or Geek Corps, you can give a kid the same chance by spending even just a single semester teaching them what you've experienced. I've just set up a Computer Science Bachelor's degree program at the University of The Gambia. There are maybe a handful of people total in this country with CS Master's degrees. Most of these people are looking for more profitable employment abroad. We desperately need good teachers to come train, even for just a single semester, the future tech minds in this country. The talent and ability and motivation all exist in the students here -- some of these kids are as bright and brighter than anyone I've met in the US, Asia, or Europe. But they don't have the talent teaching them, and that's what keeps them impoverished and disadvantaged and unable to come back to effectively teach their own. If you have a background in computers and a Master's degree or a PhD and want to help, please, please, please consider taking even just a few weeks to teach somewhere it is really needed, whether it be The Gambia, West Africa, or Flint, Michigan.

Please e-mail me direct if you are interested in teaching CS for a semester or two in The Gambia, or if you'd like to know more about Peace Corps' IT efforts in West Africa.

Re:Why Money, PeaceCorps tasks & donate your b (1)

A Peace Corps Volunt (1037950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17182830)

Thanks for your comments. It's nice to know that there are other people out there struggling through the same issues as I am. It's amazing how many comments have already come in from other PCVs and volunteers doing the same sort of work. I wish there was a central place where we could all share stories/experiences/advice in this area of work.

Keep up the good work! I love your idea of a CS Masters. I'm going to check out your site and read a little more.

Earn the money. (This is going to be offensive...) (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181854)

Go back to the rich world, get a job and donate all the money you save by living in the Toga-like conditions to the cause.

Thus funded, the skilled locals (frequenters of that "local market" you mention) will be able to do the job themselves. They would happily switch places and take your place in the rich world, but various protectionist and anti-immigration laws keep them in Africa (mostly)...

But if you insist on wasting your time and effort over there, try asking the Gates Foundation... Ha-ha.

Developing World? (1)

geekdom04 (933714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181940)

IT related projects in the developing world
While I recognize the importance of technology all over the world, couldn't a developing country benefit more from money directed at food and overall health projects rather than something IT related?

Re:Developing World? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17182400)

Heh, I'm glad someone brought up the obvious. Developing countries need basic things like stable supplies of food, water and shelter, not $100 laptops.

Re:Developing World? (1)

LieNjie-PCV (1037746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17183242)

There are many opinions on what makes for good, sustainable "development" in impoverished countries. Personally, I believe that donating food, medicine, and clean water supplies is helpful to alleviate immediate needs, but does not solve the greater goal of equipping the recipients to get out of the extreme poverty cycle and become self-sustaining. Rather, like the teach-a-man-to-fish proverb, I believe that donations of exclusively food mostly just extend the problem until the next food shortage when everyone will likely be worse off because they will have been trained to sit and wait for international handouts to solve their local problems.

IMHO, what is needed as much or more than food is an upgrade of local skillets to those that have value in the 21st century global marketplace. Teach local residents how to pull themselves out of their impoverished rut by being able to effectively generate income themselves. IT/ICT is one of those unique areas where countries can leapfrog each other -- putting up a few cheap cell phone towers obsoletes the need to invest in laying expensive copper to build a land-line infrastructure. My one-semester intro to ICT course turns out workers who are much more employable than someone in the US with five years of DOS experience.

I believe technology skills gives people the ability to market themselves, and their country, on the world stage. $5000 in food might give a village an extra month or three worth of calories, but fifty $100 laptops just might inspire and equip three or four bright teenagers to solve their own problems with technology-based income generation solutions that can feed and improve their village for several generations.

Re:Developing World? (1)

LieNjie-PCV (1037746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17184758)

#comment: Re:Developing World? v1.1
s/skillets/skillsets/g

Ghana is way more wired then the Bronx. Why? (1)

ejp (18891) | more than 7 years ago | (#17183996)

I have been hearing about Ghana and the Geekcorps for years. I think it's great, and the folks there have been doing an amazing job. BUT LETS THINK beyond Ghana please! There are 100's of other countries, and thousands of people in New York's South Bronx that have a fraction of the computer resources of the people in Ghana. GHANA, GHANA, GHANA, OK, lets think FOR ONCE beyond GHANA? In numbers, the people in Ghana are now light years now beyond the people of the Bronx. Maybe the people of Ghana can come here and help us?

Just a thought. What is the fascination with Ghana? What's there that draws EVERYONE involved in non profit computer reources? I can't figure it out. GHANA, GHANA, GHANA, GHANA, OK! What about the South Bronx? HELP US GHANA! Sorry for the rant, just so frustrating that the poor of the Bronx live with a fraction of the computing resource that we seem to want to give GHANA. GHANA help us!
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