Kenya 2013: The Difference Between Giving Aid and Aiding in Development

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It would be easier to just stay home and send a donation.

The thought has crossed the mind of any employee, from any organization, who is planning a charitable international mission. And it’s true. It would be easier. But there are limitations to simply sending aid – and to accomplish what’s simple is never the goal of Softchoice Cares.

Tomorrow, 13 of my colleagues and I journey to Maai Mahiu, Kenya for the 2013 Softchoice Cares International Mission. Our goal is not to offer aid but to aid in development – to leverage our passion for the potential that technology provides and to help bridge the so-called digital divide.

Earlier this year, our employee-driven Softchoice Cares board spent weeks scrutinizing over the various worldwide locations and local charities we could help serve. In the end, we selected Maai Mahiu because we felt our impact would be the greatest there, and the project we would assist in developing matched our core values as a company.

Our goal is not to offer aid but to aid in development – to leverage our passion for the potential that technology provides and to help bridge the so-called digital divide.

We will be working with Comfort the Children (CTC), a non-profit organization that aims to break the cycle of poverty by building and managing local infrastructure necessary to meet the challenges of everyday life – and improve local education, the economy, the environment and health care. We will help set up the Knowledge and Resource Center, which will serve as the very first library and computer lab in Maai Mahiu and the surrounding 50 kilometers.

The Center will provide essential support to all of CTC’s educational programs: adult literacy, after school peer-to-peer tutoring, computer classes, youth health education, and environmental education. It is our hope, and the hope of CTC, that access to the library and new technology will create opportunities that were absent before to further education and build job skills.

The support from our friends, family and colleagues for this mission has been incredible, from the donations of toys, medical supplies, clothing and school supplies, right through to our vendors and partners who have generously donated product to help bring this mission to life. We are fortunate to have partners like Lenovo, which donated laptops to teach both children and adults literacy and computer skills; C2G, which donated all of our network cabling for the new center; HP ESSN, which donated two servers and networking switches; and Sophos, which provided both server and endpoint security to help keep these systems healthy and intrusion free.

The Softchoice Cares board feels incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to lend a hand in such a beautiful part of the world. It would have been much easier to cut a check, but we felt our presence, our passion for technology, and our desire to make a difference were more valuable in helping to create lasting development.

I encourage you to like our Facebook page for updates from the ground during our mission to Maai Mahiu, Kenya.