It’s rare to kill two birds with one stone, let alone tackle 3 disparate causes in one a single project. However, Help Kenya Project has devised a way to save computers from landfills, plant trees, address extreme poverty and engage local youth in environmental conservation. OK, maybe that’s 4 causes.
Help Kenya Project trades computers for trees. Old computers are sent to schools in Kenya; in exchange, students plant 100 trees for each computer they receive. The project’s founder, Jude Ndambuki, a high school chemistry teacher from Kenya who now lives in New York City, spends much of his free time dumpster diving for discarded computers and computer parts. Mr. Ndambuki refurbishes computers, gadgets, printers, and other educational devices that are otherwise headed for the landfill. Once functional, these computers are sent to Kenya to students who would otherwise be unable to afford one. According to Ndambuki, Help Kenya Project is close to his heart, the children in Kenya have very few resources; even a pencil is very hard to get.” He grew up in dire poverty himself in Kenya and even timed moonlight so he could study after dark.
Jude Ndambuki knows first-hard how hard it is to grow up poor and receive an education in Kenya. As the second among eight children to a widowed mother, Ndambuki’s education came at the expense of his elder brother’s schooling because their family was unable to send two boys to school. Later, he was appointed principal at a Kenyan high school where he met an American student, who helped Ndambuki further his education in the United States.
The idea of starting the Help Kenya project started when he was walking home late one night after his continuing-education classes. He saw a computer that was thrown out for garbage collection. He decided to bring it home and he discovered that the computer was fully functional. That’s when he realized that the discarded machines in the US could be salvaged as life-changing tools for kids in Kenya.
Modernization through Environmental Conservation
Ndambuki is well-aware that his country has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to technology. In fact, most of the schools he sends the computers to have never seen computers before. Without his help, it would be another 20 years more before these schools would ever get a hold of a computer.
Every year, Ndambuki sends a 40-foot container filled with refurbished computers to his home country. Each school recipient gets average of five computers. Rather than receive money for the time, expense, and dedication he pours into the the program, Ndambuki asks the recipients of the refurbished computers to plant trees. As of July 2009, The Help Kenya Project has shipped over 2,000 computers, 15,000 books, and approximately 20 pieces of medical equipment. In return, beneficiaries have planted over 150,000 trees.
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