Computers for Tanzania - our most recent International project

For seven years Mildmay Rotarians collected unwanted but usable computer equipment, professionally cleared hard drives, packed, loaded and shipped to Tanzania schools.

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Since the beginning of 2010 the Rotary Club of Chelmsford Mildmay led a project to send recycled computers from Essex schools, businesses and individuals to Tanzania, Africa.   The scheme was run entirely by volunteer Rotarians and professional partners; supporting school students in Tanzania who, without access to computers in the 21st century, would be disadvantaged in their education.

During 2017 the club had enough computer equipment to fill a fourth container to be shipped to Tanzania. With some regret the club decided this was our final shipment and we have been grateful to Rotarians from other Chelmsford clubs for their help in cleansing and packing equipment.

The entire operation, from the collection of the computers (including PCs, laptops and Apple Macs), to the clearing of hard drives and shipping to Tanzania, followed by internal distribution, has been carried out by Rotarians under the expert supervision of IT specialists who are familiar with data protection and waste disposal requirements. 

The project has been hugely successful, with contributions from schools across Essex who willingly donated usable computer equipment, from Rotarians who collected, organised, cleansed and packed the equipment and Fingrith Hall farm for providing accommodation for several years where equipment could be cleansed, stored and for additional help when the shippers arrived to take it all to Tanzania. We were proud to receive the Graham Savage Trophy (2011-12) for the best District 1240 International Project.

The only costs involved have been in packing materials and shipping costs, thanks to funding from both our club and Rotary District 1240 and of course that free accommodation.  We also donated the container as part of the last shipment.  It has been a wonderful example of Rotary in action, working in partnership with a non-governmental organisation in Tanzania - the Datoga Foundation. There is no doubt that students in both Dar Es Salaam and the Great Rift Valley have and will continue to benefit from the time, energies, skills and equipment given by many through this project.

So, the final packing and loading of over 300 boxes of computer equipment took place on 01 Decembet 2017.  We tracked the ship and applauded its safe arrival but there was then a lengthy wait until the container was released - at last Amani was in possession and we looked forward to the next instalment of how the computer equipment is used. 

Covid-19 brought the possibility of Zoom contact and our club members were delighted to catch up with Amani in August 2020 when he brought us up to date . Firstly, he spoke of ongoing work in South Zanzibar, where there are very few computers and little awareness in the schools of the benefits of computer access for students.  He also hopes to develop a 100 student college to teach 'modern innovation' so that students can understand and utilise such knowledge.

Secondly, Amani talked about the ongoing value of the Computers for Tanzania project.  Of the 5,000 secondary schools in the country, less than a hundred had computers. In thirty of these schools the computers had been supplied by Chelmsford Mildmay Rotary Club.  Fortunately, the project has now become self-generating, with any necessary replacements supplied locally.

It was so pleasing to hear of the ongoing influence of the original project and a tirbute to those who put so much hard work into it over the years.