Thursday, May 29, 2008

my first computer

Two weeks ago, I gave a computer to a girl in Ratmale. The monitor and hard drive were donated by Motorola office in Colombo through a friend who works there, and I supplied the rest, the keyboard, mouse and multiplug extension cord. Though it is a Pentium III she primarily needs Microsoft Office, which is loaded and once she loads a Sinhala font she will have all that she has at school except for the internet connection.

I got to know she needed one when I went to her house once to pluck oranges, and limes and her mother said that she was bothering her to get one in order to do her work, as she is not allowed time to practice at the school computer lab due to its popularity, and they could not afford one at present. Now the mother says when I went on Sunday to pluck oranges, the whole neighborhood descends here to have a go, much like in the village when only a house or two had a TV, while now every house in the village has a TV except mine of course as I am one of the few with no electricity!

I have numerous requests for computers by these kids in economically deprived households, so if anyone out there wants to help, you know whom to contact!

This girl, earned the right to go to Ananda Balika Maha Vidyalaya in Hingurakgoda when she got high marks in her O levels from the CP Pura Giritale School. Her current school has two computer labs, one with 24 stations and better equipped is for the students of the school while the other is for students at other schools in the area. There is one bus to Hingurakgoda in the morning and another that returns for the school kids after school, and if the bus breaks down due to the appalling state of the roads, they have to walk the 4 KM to the main Minneriya to Polonnaruwa Rd to get alternative buses, or walk back home also from the Minneriya station.

I never formally learned MS office, but just taught myself what I need to know for whatever I do. So now I have someone now I can learn from more easily and look forward to the day when this village is linked into the Internet as there are very few internet cafes in the whole of Polonnaruwa District now and the Internet is all that separates these kids from all the world has to offer without them ever leaving their beautiful village. It is a true village in the jungle with 80% of the residents being related.(see for my place in this village.)


voipniche said...

Hello Raja,
Good to see you back and also to see you doing bunch of good to people and cows! Sometime I really worry (truly) when I don't see you do your weekly posting. Makes it worse when I hear about trouble all over the country.
As far as computers go, I can send a bunch of the from USA but the cost of shipping and import tax might not be worth it. If you can find about import tax on used computers please let me know. I think I can manage to ship a few.
As far as Microsoft Office goes, you can avoide the cost by using Open Office, which is free and does everything that full Microsoft Office Does. Even though I get my Microsoft Software at very very low cost from Microsoft, I still use Open Office. Just a suggestion.

sampath said...

i thought i wanna share this with u guys, as u know the situation here at US prety much right. Last year i found a branded P iv machine from trash box believe a good shape. Got some cheap keyboard mouse and a monitor for $15 bucks from cregslist and sitll its in a good working condition.

I feel really sorry of these poor sri lankan kids!!! These ppl trash PiV machines ???? I'm still a student here at Texas State. Hopefully someday i can help some poor kids...i'll keep u in mind....Keep up da good work.


Anonymous said...

so she got the computer, did you get the girl?

Rajaratarala said...

no I have not got the girl, I guess I need to try a little hard ha!

Regarding computers to these students, Sri Lanka has a lot of computers that are being updated with old ones being trashed, I need to find some of those at home, rather than getting people to send from overseas. they all have the basic software already loaded, so it is just a matter of letting those who scrap their computers, that I can put them to good use. thanks for the suggestions

machang said...


I might be able to help you out. There is a Buddhist Monk of Danish origin who is an open source advocate and has quite a few contacts in the sri lankan computer industry.

His name is Bhikku Mettavihari and his contact details are as follows:

Narada Center,
380/9, Sarana Road, Colombo 7
Colombo 00700
Tel 112689388 or 115364115

Usually in the local market there are small computer shops who buy outdated computers from the private corporate sector and resell the parts and or the machines themselves, so I'm assuming you might have a hard time finding people to donate machines.

Although companies like Dialog, see the value in social responsibility and consider donating things like old PC's a bigger investment than selling them to someone else.

Anyway I think the monk I mentioned should be able to help you out.

Hope this helps. BTW, you're doing an awesome thing!!!