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Computers for Africa


It's that time of year again when we appeal to those of you who might have been lucky enough to get a nice shiny new laptop for Christmas and are now wondering what to do with the old one!


In many ways, Africa is more innovative in using computer technology than we are: online banking is already reaching nearly everywhere in Africa and villages which were never ever going to get a land line telephone are now connected through the widening mobile network. Even if there is only one mobile handset in some remote villages, there is now an advice link, for example, with the nearest hospital via the village's “telephone lady”, who now has a job she never had before!


SHUMAS, the west African charity/NGO we support, works with remote rural poor communities in Cameroon. Started in 1993 by a group of local professional people, it has slowly expanded from its base in the North West Province and now covers larger areas of the country, running school building and clean water projects and health and farm training schemes.


Perhaps because of the former colonial history in Cameroon which involved Germany, France and the UK, it has managed to garner support from many charities in Europe but especially the UK, which has groups supporting the school building and training schemes of particular benefit to the mostly female poor rural farmers and their families.


SHUMAS encourages personal involvement in their many projects from overseas volunteers. For example, through the UK charity AidCamps International (www.aidcamps.org/home.aspx) anyone can volunteer for three or four weeks working together with remote villagers on the school building programme and there are plenty of other longer term voluntary opportunities for people with much needed specialists skills.


SHUMAS staff and their local volunteers desperately need laptops, which are used for their expanding administration and training programmes and for workers away on fieldwork. Laptops are especially useful as electricity, where available in towns, is thoroughly unreliable with frequent cuts and voltage variations.


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