AN UNUSED laptop gathering dust in a corner of your attic could be the means by which children in the Third World experience a new way of learning.
Antech Computers of St Ives have joined forces with Cambridge-based renewable technology firm Beechdale Energy to help youngsters in a remote village in Gambia.
Sinchu Njabo is located about 20 miles east of the nearest town. There is no electricity in the village and no plans for any in the immediate future.
The average income per family in the area is 2000 dalasis per year, which is about £50. The local school has about 700 children, aged 7 to 16, on its roll.
Thanks to Yorkshire-based charity The Gambian Schools Trust, the school now has books. A new project is to provide the school with solar panels to power lighting and up to 10 laptops.
A team of six from Beechdale Energy will be visiting the school to install the solar panels, designed by Cambridge-based firm 20-20 Solar, in January.
Before then Antech Computers are appealing for any unused laptops to be taken to their shop in Crown Street.
All personal information will be removed and the computers reformatted, before being shipped out with the solar panels on October 24.
Tom Caldwell, owner of Antech Computers, said: “The shop is the smallest part of our business. We also do support for companies and in that capacity we support Beechdale. We were happy to be involved.”
Charity trustee Hilary Lawther said the computers would be like a dream come true for pupils and staff in Sinchu Njabo.
“The nearest Internet cafe is 30 miles away and most families cannot afford the transport costs to get there, let alone the cost of being online.
“This initiative by Beechdale Energy will provide the children in this area with a wonderful chance to experience a complete new way of learning, to acquire a new skill which can take them beyond the boundaries of their village.
“The provision of lighting in the school office will transform the working life of the teachers, it gets dark at around 7pm each day, after hours activities can be introduced.”
As well as installing the panels, the team from Beechdale will help with repair and construction work at the school during their visit.
Martin Jackson, director of Beechdale Energy said: “We are keen to give something back. We feel that getting personally involved and carrying out the work ourselves, we will gain from the experience also as individuals, great opportunity for our staff to work together on a good cause, experience another way of life, and have that feel good factor about what we are doing.
“By just giving a lump sum to a charity, this is not achieved. Obviously working with a lack of electricity in a very remote part of the country will in itself be a challenge, ensuring all our materials are taken with us as popping down to the local builders merchant will not be an option.
“Working in a different climate will create a challenge, our team is very excited as this opportunity.”
INFORMATION: Laptops must have Windows XP and must be donated by Sunday, October 9. CD encyclopedias are also welcome. Cambridgeshire schools interested in twinning opportunities should also call Beechdale Energy on 01223 264520. For more information go to www.beechdale-gambia-project.info