SAN JOSE, CA August 3, 2012 – Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Camara Education held its first public event in the United States last week at the Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley.
Camara is a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization founded seven years ago by Cormac Lynch of Dublin, Ireland, currently Founder and Director of the organization. With an engineering and finance background, he spent 5 years as a petroleum engineer in the North Sea and 12 years as an investment banker in London, New York and Moscow prior to founding Camara. His mission for the organization is to use technology to improve the quality of education and livelihood skills in disadvantaged communities around the world by collecting, refurbishing and distributing used computers. Schools and communities in poverty-stricken regions around the world lack the computers, IT equipment, resources and knowledge necessary to remain proficient and competitive in an increasingly digital world, creating a widening polarization of the world’s “haves and have nots.” Camara is working to close this digital divide and has so far provided eLearning Centers to 1,650 schools in Africa, Ireland and the Caribbean.
The organization was invited to exhibit at the Plug and Play Tech Center to pick up donated computers from some of their 300 resident companies. With a goal of collecting 600 computers in Silicon Valley by the end of 2012, Camara plans to refurbish these computers in their San Jose warehouse and ship them to low income schools in Ethiopia. Camara was represented at Plug and Play by Cormac Lynch and volunteers Susan Satya, Noona Giridharadas, and Prianka Giridharadas.
Since its inception, Camara has refurbished and installed nearly 30,000 used computers and trained over 5,000 teachers on how to use the technology for learning purposes with the support of major corporate donors including Intel, Dell and other global tech companies.
As of today, the need still far exceeds the number of computers that are donated, but not the number that are available, a fact underscored by recent statistics. The EPA estimates that 29.9 million desktops and 12 million laptops were discarded in 2007 in the US alone—equalling over 112,000 computers being discarded per day. Of this number, only 18% were recycled. Additionally, according to Camara there are 800 million adults worldwide (63% female) who cannot read or write and 67 million children who do not attend primary school.
In a strategic move to jumpstart donations, Camara opened a US office in San Jose, “the Capital of Silicon Valley” to cultivate relationships with technology companies that will also benefit by the “green” aspects of the program. Camara advocates the refurbishing and reuse of computers as the best alternative to throwing them away and the first step that should be taken before recycling.
“On top of educating the poor to end generations of ongoing poverty, a cycle that is increasingly important to break as globalization continues to ”shrink the world” making the interdependence among nations more evident than ever before, there are also huge advantages to the program in terms of protecting the enviroment. Camara helps stem the growing global problem of e-waste and build up of toxic materials in landfills or even more damaging to the environment, the shipment of used electronics and components overseas to incinerators that are often without any environmentally protective measures in place.” stated CEO and Founder Cormac Lynch. He added, “It’s also important for people to realize that our natural resources are not only negatively impacted at the end of a computer’s lifecycle, but at the beginning as well. It takes over 1.5 tons of water, enough drinking water for someone for two years, to produce just one computer because of the water-intensive process of manufacturing semiconductors. Reusing computers helps to educate the world’s poor while simultaneously creating a healthier environment”.
As US CEO Blake Burke explained further, “While we focus on the educational aspect of our program, Camara is also doing its part to help remedy global social, economic and environmental problems as well, issues that affect us all. We are confident that as more of the major tech companies come on board with Camara that we’ll not only meet but exceed our goal of shipping 600 computers from Silicon Valley to Ethiopia by the end of 2012.”
Camara’s two biggest priorities for the rest of the year are securing corporate and institutional donors and recruiting volunteers to implement the program and they are actively recruiting board members from Silicon Valley as well.