Friday, October 22, 2010

Tangalle, Sri Lanka: 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 traveled 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
DWC Team Leader
Sri Lanka 2010

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