Saturday, December 06, 2008


Camara is a charity based in The Digital Hub in Thomas Street near Dublin city centre. They take in second hand computers and rebuild them to give to schools in Africa. It's a fantastic idea and they get donations for individuals as well as businesses.

I brought along two old computers from the Pharmacy, plus two monitors, a printer, and lots of cables and other bits and pieces. I even gave away my old Palm Tungsten PDA. They took everything and were more than happy with all I brought along. I met Jim who is a volunteer for Camara and I told them I was a Lecturer in Computing at NCI and he showed me around. They have a very efficient operation and he brought me though the process from taking in the computers to shipping them out. Everything is checked - they get a lot of faulty monitors in particular which are sent for recycling. They are currently processing a shipment of Compaq computers from an office in Belfast. The big thing is that they have to guarantee that the hard disk is wiped and they have special Garda approved software to do this. For some computers they have to destroy the hard disk - banks like AIB won't give the computers otherwise. They first use a Degausser which renders the magnetic hard disk completely unusable and actually damages the storage system. The disk is then split and crushed using a special gadget like a guillotine. They have to buy new hard disks to replace these, and also buy a lot of mice - they got a shipment of 1,000 from China yesterday.

The rebuilt computers end up in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Lesotho. Camara also send out volunteers to teach IT and to maintain the computers. Jim told me it is a very successful operation. 

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