Taking care of the disadvantaged with help of technology

Taking care of the disadvantaged with help of technology
By Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Inquirer
Last updated 03:32am (Mla time) 08/14/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Taiwan-based computer manufacturer Acer says its vision is to enable people to do more by harnessing the benefits of information and communication technology.

It is for this reason that Acer Philippines Inc. has made it its mission to provide computers to organizations helping the disadvantaged sectors, such as street children and the disabled.

For instance, two brand-new Acer desktops went to the office of Childhope Asia Philippines in Manila’s Paco district to improve office administration and processes.

By spending less time on administrative jobs, such as encoding and filing, it is hoped that Childhope staff will be able to spend more time for the many street children under the organization’s care.

Childhope Asia Philippines is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, which strives to rescue children from the dangers of living and working in the streets.

The state-run National Vocational Rehabilitation Center (NVRC) also received computers from Acer, through the help of the Rotary Club of Manila Metro.

The NVRC helps persons with disabilities, including the elderly and their dependents, learn useful skills so they can fend for themselves.

The NVRC, located in Project 4, Quezon City under the Department of Social Welfare and Development-NCR, provides courses such as consumer electronics, garment trades, food management service, scientific massage and repair of watches and mobile phones.

Skills enhancement

NVRC also provides computer-related courses such as computer literacy, computer software application and computer technology (servicing), and this is where Acer will be of big help.

As Acer Philippines general manager Manuel Wong says, Acer does not stop at just donating hardware.

Wong says the computer package comes with training because Acer wants to make sure that the computers will actually be used by the organizations’ beneficiaries, and will not just be kept under lock and key in the supervisor’s office.

Acer, he says, wants to bring technology closer to those sectors that need it most.

Wong relates how by learning specialized software programs, the visually impaired students at the NVRC are trained to become call center agents.

“They already have people to train them on how to use the computers. They just need the computers and this is where we come in,” Wong says.

He says NVRC is an example of technology put to good use, as the visually impaired become productive citizens of society.

Acer has also reached out to the Second Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Camp Capinpin, which covers the Southern Tagalog region, in the belief that technology also makes for a modern army.

Wong says the different institutions and organizations that receive Acer computers are not the only ones benefiting from the outreach program.

Acer’s 42 employees and their families gain from it, too.

He explains that because Acer encourages staff members to help train the beneficiaries on the basics of computer technology, they now have a better understanding of the needs of the many disadvantaged in society.

Getting involved

“We wanted the people to be involved, to care for others,” Wong says, “donation is easy for us, it is the volunteering of time and love to the community that is more difficult.”

Acer in the Philippines started lending a helping hand to different organizations last year with the donation of three computer sets to the IQRA Kiddie Learning Center on Arlegui St. in Manila’s Quiapo district.

IQRA, which literally means read in Arabic, is a non-stock, nonprofit institution that helps educate young Muslims in Quiapo. It was established by nine young Muslim women professionals who want to alleviate poverty among Muslims children through education.

Wong, himself an active Rotarian, initially feared that Acer employees would not be willing to volunteer their time and energy. He was wrong.

“The feedback was that everybody enjoyed the different activities,” Wong says, “I believe we were able to promote the idea that a person can contribute and do something meaningful even if he is alone.”

Aside from donating computers, Acer employees go around different communities to donate what they can, such as throwing kiddie parties for the orphans, finance a one-day feeding program for the underprivileged in Quiapo, buy giveaways for the sports activities of a deaf school, and, of course, teach basic computer skills to institutions receiving Acer computers.

Wong says Acer hopes to hold these activities at least twice every quarter, and on Saturdays so that the employees can participate.

“Everybody says that it has been a rewarding experience, and people realize that this is the society we are living in, and there are many people out there who need help,” Wong says.

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