Local activist and co-founder of Key West’s Computers for Jamaica project Mike Mongo is playing host for the month to principal of Brampton Primary principal Mrs Camiel West-Thompson and her family. Mrs. West-Thompson, along with her children, Kyrell, 3, and Camielia, 4, and teenage son, Shamar Forbes, 15, are in town to visit the people and companies who have donated the discarded and unused older computers for the project. Mongo and Lincoln Thompson founded the Computers for Jamaica project two years ago.

“The Computers for Jamaica project started at lunch one day at the old Conch Town Cafe on Petronia Street, when Lincoln Thompson suggested we ship these old computers people throw away to Jamaica,” said Mongo.” When I asked him why, he explained: ‘Mike, where I am from there are NO computers.’ That pretty much sealed the deal.”

Mrs. West-Thompson as principal of Brampton Primary had put it upon her husband (himself an alumnus of the grades 1-6 school and resident of Key West where he works in construction and does wood-working) to do a project for the benefit of the Jamaican country school. That was 2008. Since that time, the two have taken donations of unused or non-working computers to rebuild and ship to the school. In 2009, over 30 computer workstations were shipped to the school’s student population. The two have put in countless hours on the project.

“I saw with my own eyes the amount of work the entire Brampton community and the Trelawny Parish education board have put in on this project. That is why I am so dedicated. They built a special computer room for the school and did it almost entirely with volunteers. It is inspiring,” Mongo shared. “We are working to have one computer in every student household. There are fewer than 100 students but approximately 65 households plus teachers and the school itself. The biggest challenge is the shipping. The old monitors are so bulky it is expensive. We figure each flat screen monitor we receive saves us $50 dollars in shipping.”

The project has begun to have an impact here in Key West. “Rewardingly, we are now placing computers in the homes of Key West students as well. It’s one great big redistribution of unused resources. All we ask is that the kids be ‘A and B’ students, and have good behavioral records with their parents and teachers.” Mongo says if students meet these requirements, he will find them a computer workstation.

Mrs. West-Thompson has begun to meet the individuals and businesses who have contributed to the project. “Everyone has been so generous. Key West is a beautiful place. It shares much in common with Jamaica. I did not know the two would be so much alike, even the same fruit trees.”

She’s hoping to tour some of the local school facilities and to meet with fellow educators.

“Though Key West is much more modern than Brampton, we share a dedication to the education of our children.”

For further information or to donate computers, flat-screen monitors, RAM chips or spare hard drives, contact Mike Mongo at 304-1555, visit his website computersaremylife.com, or add him as a friend on Facebook!

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