OLPC Sends Refurbished Laptops To Haiti

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One Laptop Per Child, the organisation behind the $100 laptop, is calling for previous customers to donate old machines to aid efforts

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organisation has put out a call for anyone who might have bought one of its laptops in the past to donate the machine to needy children in Haiti.

In a posting on the company’s blog site, OLPC outlined the steps that it has taken to send new machines to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake that hit the country earlier this month and may have killed around 110,000 people.

While OLPC pointed out that life-sustaining aid such as sanitation, water, food and shelter is still badly needed, it has also joined other technology companies in pledging hardware to help with longer-term recovery and development of the country. The organisation recently announced plans to send volunteers to Haiti in the near future to help with education projects.

“This year, as part of our expanded OLPCorps program, we will be sending Corps members to Haiti. These field volunteers will serve as an integral resource for displaced students and teachers as the country begins to rebuild,” OLPC stated.

The organisation has had an ongoing presence in Haiti since 2007 and has sent around 14,000 of its XO laptops to the country. But following the earthquake on 12 January, the organisation has pledged to step-up its efforts and send over new machines, as well as calling on owners of XO laptops in developed countries to donate the machines to Haiti.

“We are also gathering used XOs at our Dallas warehouse, to send later this year to groups of children that have been displaced by the earthquake. If you have an XO laptop you can spare, you can ship it to OLPC For Haiti,” the organisation stated. “It will then be refurbished and sent to Haiti later this year.”

News that OLPC is asking for refurbished machines to send to Haiti may be greeted with surprise by some experts in developmental IT, who criticised the organisation in the past for building an entirely new device for developing countries when thousands of usable PCs are discarded into landfill every year.

Sending refurbished computers to developing countries is an approach adopted by other IT charities including the UK’s Computer Aid international. The charity says that it has refurbished more than 130,000 PCs and laptops, all of which are being used to support e-learning, e-health, e-inclusion and e-agriculture projects.

The OLPC organisation, founded by tech expert Nicholas Negroponte, was set up to develop a low-cost notebook computer to help children in developing countries improve computer and learning skills. According to reports, the organisation is working on a follow-up to its XO laptop which has been adopted by more than 1.4m children in 35 countries. The latest device, known as the X0-3, will be available in 2012 and will cost less than $100.

Haiti was hit by an earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter Scale on Tuesday, 12 January. Although the epicentre of the quake was off the coast of the island nation, it was still only 17km from the capital, Port-au-Prince. After-shocks measuring between 5.9 and 5.5 have also hit and experts have said that an earthquake on this scale has not been recorded in the region for 250 years.

Donations to the aid effort in Haiti can be sent via UNICEF and the World Food Program.


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