Guatemala Computer Lab Donations

(See below for project description)

Current Pledges

  • Brian Y. – 1 Laptop (no working battery) MEM: 756MB, PROCESSOR: p4 mobile 1.6GHZ, HD: 20GB (WIFI does work)
  • Mark S.-¬†8 computers w/ NIC,¬† MEM: 256MB, PROCESSOR 800MhzP4, HD: 4.5G
  • Jim T.- CAT5 cable & terminators, crimping tool, 24port switch, small router
  • Ryan K.- keyboard, mouse, some random stuff

Things I still need, in rough order of importance

  • MONITORS for the computers I already have pledged. Flat panel would be best if available, to make them easier to transport.
  • spare parts (hard drives, memory, mice, keyboards, cards)
  • LCD projector
  • a webcam, preferably w/ microphone
  • any additional¬†computers w/ monitors, keyboards, mice, and NIC. I might not use them right away, but my long term goal is to upgrade to 16 stations in the next 2 years.

Transportation

I’ve looked into several options, but the current plan is to return to the US, physically collect the equipment, and take it back with me to Guatemala on the plane. The village will supply a van and driver to get me and the gear from the airport to our village, 8 hours away. I am going to try to weasel the airlines into waiving the baggage overcharge, but thismight not go. As a result, I am looking for someone to donate cash to defer the expense. If you are interested or have questions, please email me.

Project Description

During a meeting with the village elders of Temux Grande (our village in Guatemala), they told us that they want local kids to have more opportunities than their parents did, and they realize that the ability to use computers is a critical to their futures. Emily and I also feel that internet access would help them in a ton of other areas: researching better farming techniques, learning about health, and starting a fair-trade microbusiness are all projects we are preparing. They don’t have a library here, either; there are only a few in the entire country, so this is a cost-effective way to make tons of knowledge available to these native Mayans.

Three years ago they built a place for a computer center in their little school (it’s basically a clean, dry room with electricity and its own panel). Computers are extremely rare here, so they appealed to the national government (which is corrupt and pretty ineffective) several times for assistance, with no luck. Now we have an opportunity to really make a difference. I’m pretty excited about the project and its possibilities, but I can be a lot more effective if I have third-party help from people more knowledgeable and connected than myself. This is where you come in.

What I need:

  • Ideas for general setup and a ton of advice
  • Used computer donation or sources for donations
  • Some occasional technical support as I am setting up the center

Community involvement: The first part of doing development work is that it has to be sustainable. The Peace Corps doesn’t give “gifts”; we help people to do it themselves. As such, communities served must put in work equal to the things that come into the community from outside sources. To get donated computer hardware, I’ve required the community to “match funds” by kicking in the following:

  • A permanent, community-owned and rent-free location for the Center
  • All chairs, desks, and related furniture
  • Pay for electricity
  • Pay for monthly internet monthly fees, as well as connection fees/ equipment
  • Provide a competent administrator/educator, to be trained and ready before I leave Guatemala. These things, unlike the hardware, are within their reach and willpower; for example, there are several furniture makers in town that are lined up to make the desks & chairs to my specifications.

Physical arrangement: I am hoping for 6 to 8 stations. They would be networked, and share an internet connection. Based on on input from my computer gurus, I am now leaning heavily towards running Ubuntu, or Edbuntu if the computers I can get will support it. It would also be nice if we had an LCD projector (even an old 640×480 would be better than nothing) to use when training. Here’s a proposed equipment list; please let me know if I missed anything:

Things I need donated:

  • 6 to 8 computers w/ monitors, keyboards, mice, NICs. Or laptop(s) if that’s what I can get)
  • 1 16-port switch
  • 1 router (could be a combo gizmo; i will use whatever I can get)

Things I can get in-country (but won’t refuse if donated):

  • lots ethernet cable, cable terminations, crimping tool. Maybe pre-made cables are an option?
  • 1 UPS

Nice bonuses:

  • Extra parts such as hard drives, memory, mice, keyboards
  • NAS or some centrally available storage
  • The aforementioned LCD projector
  • Anything clever you can think up