100,000th volunteer hour

Camara volunteer Karl Cooney with Minister of State for Training and Skills Ciarán Cannon at the Camara Workshop

The Minister of State for Training and Skills, Ciarán Cannon, has recognized Camara Education for its role in providing valuable skills and work experience for Irish people. Camara is an Irish charity with a mission to enhance education through the introduction of technology and digital literacy skills to children in disadvantaged communities in Ireland, Africa and the Caribbean.

Since its inception in 2005, Camara volunteers have clocked 100,000 hours refurbishing used computers and preparing them for shipment to disadvantaged communities. It takes approximately three hours to get each of the 35,000 computers Camara has shipped ready to go.

During a visit to Camara’s workshop in Chapelizod on Monday, Minister Cannon recognized Camara’s recent achievement in reaching their 100,000th  hour of volunteering. The Minister thanked Camara and the volunteers for the exceptional work and commented, “The hands-on experience volunteers gain whilst enabling this social enterprise to continue its important work improving education for those who need it, sends out a strong message about Ireland as a country. Despite our economic difficulties, we’re still willing to reach out to people all over the world and work with them and support them in developing these skills. Ultimately, everyone benefits and that’s what we want to do.”

In seven years, over 2,000 volunteers have passed through Camara’s doors, contributing an average of 50 hours each. Many of these volunteers come to Camara through the FAS Training and Employment Authority or college programs looking to develop skills they can use in careers in technology. Camara volunteers are paid in real life work experience that greatly assists them in their quests for work upon completing their placements.

Andrea Jeaney is one of those volunteers. As an IT Carlow student, she did a placement with Camara as a workshop technician. Jeaney commented, “I undertook a six month placement with Camara Education as part of my college degree and it proved to be quite a success.  As part of my placement in Camara I was working on new projects consistently, meeting new people and strengthening and expanding my skills in the process.  I would encourage anyone to get involved with Camara, it is an organisation that is continuously giving back to the community and beyond and the experience and skills I learned while volunteering with Camara are invaluable to me.” Jeaney is just one of many former Camara volunteers who have found the competence and confidence to pursue their professional goals.

John Fitzsimons, CEO of Camara Education added, “They say when you volunteer you typically get more than you give. In Camara, the benefit of people’s time is having a huge impact on the lives of those that need support most. In return our volunteers acquire the practical skills that enable a huge number to gain employment in our digital age. Today we are delighted that the Minister is supporting us to move onto a different scale.”

As the charity grows, Camara will continue to rely heavily on volunteers to perform vital tasks in each computer’s journey to a disadvantaged school. To volunteer with Camara or to donate used computer equipment, please visit www.camara.org or call 01 65 22 665.