Giving Your Old Tech a New Life

With the holidays past us, I’m guessing a few of you got some new toys and now have old toys to put out to pasture. If those old toys are items like laptops, tablets and digital cameras, I have a suggestion for you. Give them a new life, and help make a real difference in someone else’s life.

In the early 1980s, as a newspaper photographer in Rochester, New York, I met a pair of twin brothers who’d started an adventure travel business called Pack Paddle Ski. In time, I became friends with them and their families, and about fifteen years ago started leading photography trips for them. Their international trips always had a strong cultural component, which was certainly a bonus for the photo trips. Out of those “people-to-people” trips grew their program of giving back, called “Journeys of Solutions,” a non-profit to help people in developing countries they had visited. JOS raises money and donations, and sends volunteers to help build schools, homes, improve health care, education and access to clean water, among other things.

Rick French, center, with one of the new homes they built for women in this small community in Tanzania.

While they’re always happy to get donations of money, they can also use donations of goods. Things that may have outlived their usefulness to us can still make a big difference for others who have little or nothing. So if you have an old laptop, iPad or Android tablet you’re no longer using, or camera (especially point-and-shoot), please consider donating it to them. Old phones that take SIM cards are welcome too. You can contact Pack Paddle Ski directly to do that, or you’re welcome to send them to me (see links below for that information). Rick French, one of the brothers, will be coming through Kansas City in a couple of months, and collecting what I’ve managed to gather. He’s headed back to Africa in May.

Much of what we collect will be going to the Lightness Women’s Projects, an ongoing series of projects to build homes and provide much needed medical care to a group of single mothers and widows in a small community in Tanzania. You can see some of their stories, and the ongoing efforts there, here.

If you’d like to send your old tech to me, here’s how to contact me. If you’d like to send that old tech directly to Pack Paddle Ski, follow this link. And if you’d like to make a cash donation to Journeys of Solutions, here’s the info to do that. Thanks.

This is one of the finished homes. Click on in it for an interview with the widow it was built for.