By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Distribution of laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones to facilitate e-learning for primary school pupils has begun.
In April, Archbishop Jason Gordon appealed for electronic devices, asking the public to contact email@example.com. The Archdiocese’s Facebook page carried the appeal. A team has been executing the collection of devices from contributors and the logistics of getting them to recipients.
“It was a truly wonderful experience to see how people just gave,” said Candace Clarke-Salloum, a member of the team. There were offers of assistance “from throughout the country” and about 100 devices were received.
They came from “a mix of individuals, organisations and companies who heard this appeal and understood what was happening, who looked at the devices they have and weren’t using or were in the process of changing out”.
The need for devices has increased with e-learning being implemented at home with the closure of schools. “A household usually has one computer, which each child took turns using but now each child has to have access to continue his/her education that one computer just would not suffice. It posed a real challenge we could not have anticipated before,” Clarke-Salloum said.
The public “rose to the challenge”, like the seven-year-old girl who gave up her iPad after seeing the appeal.
A member of the team was tasked with contacting donors to get details and ensure “items were of a standard that could be used” and chargers were included. Persons donating and recipients are required to sign a document.
The Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) obtained information on teachers and students in need through a data collection drive which started in April.
Clarke-Salloum said the CEBM list, and the names collected from emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, calls to Archbishop’s House and WhatsApp messages were collated.
“Then we matched the two lists. We tried to give by region. It did not always work, there was greater need outside Port of Spain, so it wasn’t always able to match,” she said. Donors were asked to drop off devices at the parish nearest to them.
From here they were delivered to vicariate centres or parish volunteers undertook delivery. Clarke-Salloum said, “a lot of volunteers worked quietly behind the scenes doing their little bit”