GCC Computer Club Sends Computers to Impoverished Countries

By Shane Causyn

Feb. 12, 2019

With a total of about 15 members, GCC’s Computer Club has found an admirable way to stay busy this semester.

After receiving approximately 86 recycled laptops, the Club decided to donate them to impoverished countries in the West Indies. Countries like Trinidad, Jamaica and other Caribbean countries will be given these computers where everyday technology we have here in America isn’t so readily available. In places where students may not even have notebooks, these laptops will make an exceptional impact on the communities in these regions.

Oliver Miller, instructor of Computer Information Systems at GCC, is the connection between these recycled computers and GCC’s Computer Club. Miller is the former president of an organization called the Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo (JAAB). JAAB’s main objective is providing medical assistance in these regions. Every two years, JAAB gathers doctors and other medical personnel to visit these impoverished countries in the West Indies to provide free medical care, as well as works with pharmaceutical companies to provide medicine to send to these countries. “Our chairman is from that area, as am I, so we would gather these medical personnel and send them to provide free medical care,” said Miller.

Despite their overwhelming commitment to medical research, JAAB saw an opportunity to assist these communities with some technological aid as well. Having many members scattered throughout the area, some of these members have connections to Nichols University in Buffalo. The University goes through a computer “refresh” every three years. After a recent refresh, a total of 86 computers were donated to JAAB to be sent to the West Indies. However, these computers needed some work before they could be sent. That is when Miller brought them to GCC, where the Computer Club completed the necessary steps to ready the computers for shipment.

Jared Wise, a Computer Club member who worked on these laptops, said he appreciates the experience the Club gives him. “You get a lot of unique problems that challenge you to find a solution for,” said Wise.

The computers needed their operating systems changed. The operating system must be changed from Microsoft, an operating system that requires licensing, to Linux, an open-source software that is free of charge. Fortunately, Linux still offers most of the same things found in the Window’s system. “Within the operating system you still have things like Word, Excel, and internet access, which is what the folks need,” Miller said.

In addition to changing the operating system, the Club looks over each individual computer to make sure it is in good shape, making any necessary repairs the computer may need. According to Miller, the Club combined a total of approximately 72-86 hours spent working on the laptops.

“There are a lot of countries being left out of technology, a lot, and they just don’t have the disposable machines we have today,” Miller said. “We have to do something about it because who knows, the next great innovation, or medicine, or whatever could very well be out of one of these islands.”