Sri Lanka Mission Video Memories

Thanks to the Softchoice Cares Board for some of the best 18 months of my life!

I’ve uploaded some videos of our volunteer trip to Sri Lanka. Some of them are long videos, but they bring back lots of memories.  More to come!

By the way, the video of us mixing cement for one of the first times is pretty funny, I wish we had a video form the last day to compare! [Read more…]

Day 1 – The arrival

It’s been two days since we’ve gotten here.  The computer lab is in great shape and as we have internet access here, we’re now able to blog and post pictures (hopefully more frequently).

Day 1 – Arrival

We arrived in Sri Lanka, around 3am in the morning.  We were greeted by Dave and Nick – at that point we’ve been traveling for around 24 hrs.  But we still had 6 more hours to go.  Our driver Anel drove us through Columbo and through the surrounding area to get us to the Palm Paradise Cabanas. 

The Palm Paradise Cabanas is a beautiful place, it’s almost surreal. We can hear the ocean waves continuously and the beach is awesome.  Everyone we’ve met in Sri Lanka has been very nice and generous.  Georgina was also greeted with some new friends – a small pack of puppies looking for attention!

By 4:30pm everyone was exhausted.  Most of us have travelled for 30 hours (or more) and trying to stay up was quite the exercise.  We had an assortment of curry for dinner and boy was that delicious!

I think it’s safe to say by the time dinner was finished, everyone crashed and had a good night sleep!

Here We Go

The team started work today by getting right to it. We took the laptops generously donated by HP to the Tangalle Primary School. They had prepared a classroom for us by getting desks and Internet access – both of which were purchased by Softchoice Cares with money that was raised by Softchoice’s people. It was a bit of mayhem but we were all moved by the children who welcomed us when we arrived.We also had the opportunity to visit the original village where Softchoice helped build houses for people affected by the Christmas 2004 Tsunami. It was amazing to see the growth of bushes and shrubs to fill in the community. I recognized some of the children and they too had grown in the 4 1/2 years since we were in Sri Lanka.

Two of our side projects are helping a poor family to get a roof on their house. We will be using some of our manpower to help finish the house before the monsoon season. This family is a lovely couple with two children- both of whom attend the Tangalle Primary School. The other project is a development project where we are helping build a trades training facility.

More stories and pictures to follow!

The count down begins…

In 2 days, the Softchoice Cares group will be leaving for Sri Lanka.  After months of preparation, I can’t believe it is almost time to go!  I think we are all very excited about the opportunity to have a positive impact in Tangalle but some of us may be a little nervous about what to expect.  I’m told it’s raining quite a bit!!!

Softchoice employees and friends have donated many items… to the point where our duffel bags are almost full!  We have received school supplies, kids clothes, first aid supplies, soccer cleats, toys etc…  This translates to approx. 750 pounds of donations!!!!

Chris Tang is working like mad to get all 20 computers loaded and ready to go to Sri Lanka for the computer lab in their school!  I know he’ll get it done on time though J  Go Chris, Go!

Computer Lab Update

Hey All,

We are about a day and half away from departing to Tangalle, Sri Lanka where we’re going to build a computer lab.  The past week has been quite chaotic trying to get all the final arrangements in place.  I am pleased to say that everything is coming to place despite a few minor delays.

I would like thank our sponsors:

  • Hewlett Packard – 20 Brand New Laptops!!
  • Microsoft Hardware – 30 Mice & 5 Web Cams!
  • Softchoice Corporation – WD MyBook 2TB NAS

With a day left, we are still expecting some more generous donations.  

Stay tuned for more updates over the next couple of days!

The Magic!

The people of Softchoice are passionate about making a difference in the world. That might be by providing a day or work in a local community or it might be volunteering with the skills we have learned in our business.The thing that we have learned through the many things we have done is that we are in the computer business and the best way to help in the world – to play to our strengths is to find ways to help people bridge the divide that exists between people who have access to technology and those who don’t.

We have funded computer classrooms with Room to Read. We have paid for classrooms and school setups with One Laptop Per Child. We have funded charities like the Chiki Children’s Charity to build computer labs in small villages. In North America we have set up computers in Women’s shelters and other local charities.

But, our experience is really challenged when we travel to poor countries and start a technology program from scratch. Our people travelled to Uganda one year. And Rwanda the next. This year we head to Sri Lanka.

We first had some experience with Sri Lanka shortly after the Tsunami. Softchoice people raised $85,000 and that money was used to help people in Sri Lanka. We helped people get their lives back by building houses and supporting children through World Vision.

This trip is a return to Sri Lanka but this time where our purpose is aligned with our business. We will start a computer program in a primary school in Tangalle. Our business partners are helping us with the materials. Softchoice employees have raised money that pays for things like fixing the classroom up, buying desks and chairs and purchasing the items we can’t get donated. Softchoice pays for flights, food and hotels from the company expense budget. And all of this adds up to opportunity for the children of Tangalle. I feel so lucky to be part of a company that has such a wide vision that this kind of thing is possible. This has no financial bottom line impact for Softchoice but we do it because it is the right thing to do. Reaching out and assisting others isn’t about writing a check. It is about taking a risk, making an effort, demonstrating a caring that needs no thank-you. That is the magic.

Nick Foster