More than 50 years after they met, Jack O’Donnell and Brother Jim Keane continue the tradition of service they learned about at Brother Rice High School in Chicago.
Keane belongs to a religious order called the Christian Brothers. At an age when most people are entering retirement, he volunteered to teach in a war zone in South Sudan, the struggling East Africa country that won its independence in 2011. South Sudan has established the solar-powered Solidarity Teacher Training College in the city of Yambio, where Keane and other educators from around the world are helping to develop teachers for the country’s 10 million people.
This teacher training school is funded by the Union of Superior Generals in Rome. They teach 100 teachers while they teach local students. Graduates receive Primary Teacher Certificates awarded by the State Ministry of Education.
O’Donnell, a former teacher who leads the World Computer Exchange chapter in Chicago, reconnected with Keane recently at the 50th annual reunion of their class. O’Donnell immediately realized that his work with WCE was a natural fit with Keane´s efforts in Yambio.
” I was especially happy that we were able to help Brother Keane in his work in South Sudan¨ said O´Donnell. ¨I met Jim in high school and we stayed in contact for most of the time. Recently I reconnected with him for our 50th high school reunion. Many of our classmates were inspired with Jim’s work and we banded together along with WCE volunteers to support his efforts. In my time with WCE it was the most personal connection I’ve ever had with a shipment.”
O’Donnell raised thousands of dollars to provide computers and solar batteries for the training college, and he persuaded DHL to fly the equipment from Chicago to Kenya, where Keane´s colleagues brought it across the border into South Sudan.
“This is the 49th country to which WCE has shipped,” said Timothy Anderson, who founded WCE 20 years ago. “Over the years, we have sent more than 34,000 computers, and we’re always eager to reach new students. But we can succeed only through dedicated volunteers like Jack and his team and donors and through businesses like DHL and the alumni of Brother Rice who support expanded educational opportunities in the neediest places.”
Kristopher VanderWilp of DHL (on the right of this photo) helped Jack O´Donnell handle the donated shipment of the laptops from Chicago´s OHare Airport to Nairobi, Kenya.
During 2018, WCE shipped 1,175 computers to 75 schools in 18 developing countries: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Liberia, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. This equipment shipped in 2018 will reach almost 30,000 students every year for an average used computer lifetime of 3 and a half years. “Our goal for 2019 is to ship 1,800 computers,” Anderson said, “and with people like Jack O’Donnell, we may do even better than that.”
DONORS: Brother Rice High School, Christian Brothers of Kenya, DHL, Jim Casey, Nelly Cheboi, George Dulzo, John Gill, Chris Hayes, Stephen Kohn, James Lally, Dr. Michael Leahy, Jean Lovati, Bess-Catherine and James McCord, Annette and Patrick McKian, Earl Moore, Steven Moore, Bryant Moyles, Greg Nellis, Ray Niemiec, Jack O´Donnell, Robert O´Donnell, Joseph Orchowski, Ken Piwowar, Chris and Curtis Purington, Jim Roche, Tom Savick, Bryan Schultz, Greg Swienton, Michael Thomas, Kristopher VanderWilp, Jack Wenger, and Jixue Yang.
WCE thanks Robert Zeid and Maria Beebe for their help as volunteer Development Officers for the 25 interested groups that have contacted WCE from South Sudan. ¨I often wonder what long-term impact these tools will have on the kids and the next generation. Like planting a seed with an image of a tree in your mind.¨ ~ Robert Zeid ~
20%-off computer sale until end of June 2019