As a former Director of Development, Monitoring & Evaluation for Thirteen Threads in Panajachel, Guatemala, I can attest to the professionalism and honesty with which Computers for Guatemala and Don and Kirk, conduct their organization. As a non-profit that provides education and empowerment to indigenous Maya women in 20 rural communities, Thirteen Threads is incredibly grateful to CFG for giving us the chance to work according to best practice standards. Researching and creating community education curricula for over 400 women is not an easy task for the Field Supervisor and Community Facilitators, and without computers, (and ones that work!) we would not be able to do our jobs well. Likewise, the organization recently enhanced its monitoring and evaluation program and the computers allow for us to enter and analyze data in meaningful ways so that we can be accountable to the indigenous Maya women members of the organization, ourselves, and our funders. Thank you Don and crew for helping us maintain a transparent, professional organization. Anyone who knows what it's like to work for a non-profit in a developing country (or any non-profit for that matter!), knows the value of partnering with organizations like Computers for Guatemala. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
"Vida y Esperanza", "School of Life and Hope", is a christian school that helps the children of various communities in the area of Sacatepequez, Guatemala, to be able to attend a private school without having to pay full tuittion and receive high quality education. The school's computer lab used to have 10 working computers. After the school purchased the computers from your organization, the school was able to provide personalized computer classes to more than 300 students. The biggest change that I could see was that before we had three students per computer, and it was very difficult to teach them that way. Also, sometimes, one of the three would be left out as I was teaching, because of space in the desk and time wise. This year, after we purchased the computers, it was a lot easier, due to the number of computers. In my biggest class, which holds 39 students, I used to rotate them, so they would all be able to type and work in the same class period. I felt less stressed and I was able to cover more content with all the computers that we had this year.
I run a nonprofit in Nebaj, Guatemala, called Embrace Guatemala. The past three years we've ordered about 60 computers from Computers for Guatemala for two grade schools, two junior highs, two neighborhood community centers, and another nonprofit. We buy their high-end computers, which cost about $130 and come with a flat-screen monitor and formatted in Spanish. The schools pay 25-50% of the cost; we pay the rest. Computers for Guatemala guarantees their computers for one year, repairing or replacing defective computers. The computers are used, so on occasion we have problems with some of them. When this happens Computers for Guatemala attends to the matter promptly and professionally. Computers for Guatemala provides a wonderful service for a country way behind the developed countries of the world. I'm really grateful for their service, and intend to order more computers from them for other schools in my region.
The computers that have been brought to the pueblo of Santriago Atitlan have greatly contributed to the educational system of the children who for many are studying for the first time. I was in on the groundwork when the school children were sitting in the mud, without school supplies, without school books, no teachers, not even a roof over their heads. Now we have three new schools. And, of course, I did not do it alone! I began to notice that computers began to appear in the classrooms, and discovered it was due to Donald Livingston's contribution. Mr. Livingston is a very kind and compassion person. He is also very scholarly and desirous of the best education possible for the Mayan children.
We were happy to allow Computers for Guatemala to use our space in year 2010 and 2011 for collection purposes. Don Livingston is a dedicated giver....totally a volunteer. I was so happpy to be able to help in a small way. Penny Glassmeyer
I worked with Computers for Guatemala twice while working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. Not only were they lovely to work with and very professional, but all of the computers we bought came packed with such care that they were in great shape, and they were stuffed full of toys and clothes that were also of great use to the community I lived in. They also take care of all of the shipping costs and border fees, which can be a VERY big challenge if that is not arranged ahead of time. I would highly recommend any organization looking for computers to work with this organization, as I have recommended them to all of my fellow Peace Corps volunteers!
As a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala and during my 33 year career as a loan officer at the Inter-American Development Bank I was able to observe that often, it was the simple, grass roots projects, which provided goods and services directly to those who needed them, at a reasonable cost, that were the most effective. Computers for Guatemala is an excellent example of an organization which was founded and operates on these principles.
As an advisor to Computers for Guatemala, I have seen founder and president Don Livingston, devote his heart and soul to the ambitious project of providing modern technology to schools and libraries in Guatemala.
With modest financial resources, but a great deal of energy, enthusiasm and persistence, Don has enabled some 19,000 Mayan students to have access to computers for the first time. These recycled computers, donated by generous Americans, open the door to exciting educational and career opportunities for deprived youngsters. In addition, his efforts have led to the construction of high school. After spurring the local government to donate the land, his organization paid for the building materials, while parents and friends did most of the actual building.
As a resident of Darien, Ct, Don’s home town, I can vouch for Don’s integrity and commitment to improving the lives of Guatemala’s Mayan youngsters. Written by Martin Skala
The work that Computers for Guatemala is doing is grand. I am director of ASIVESCA-ONG in Cabañas, Zacapa, Guatemala. We run a Library Project and currently have two computers from them. Students from different levels and ages come to research for homework or prepare for graduation. Computers and Internet are great tools. Nowdays students are asked, in their schools, to research on the web. Most of the families are poor and cannot afford to pay for this service. We provide our service for a donation of ten cents (if possible). Kirk Lightfield is always kind to ask if anything goes wrong and patient to advice. THANKS Compus for Guate for supporting us is our job!
Computers for Guatemala has been a real game changer for the ASIVESCA library. This library is located in Zacapa, Guatemala and serves disadvantaged youth and adults. Access to technology will be crucial for the future of Guatemala and many families don't have the money to pay for internet cafe access. This program is a win-win, because computers that might end up in a landfill are given a second life. ASIVESCA welcomes visitors/volunteers to the library.
Computers for Guatemala helped provide computers to middle schools in rural Guatemala that previously did not have any such equipment. In one school, an entire computer lab was set up for students to practice typing and learn basic computer skills, which they would otherwise not have had the opportunity to do. One of the great things about this organization is that they sent out staff whenever technological or maintenance assistance was needed in one of the schools or labs.
Fotokids, the Fundacíon de Niños Artistas de Guatemala, has been delighted with the support we have received from Computers For Guatemala. We are a non-profit that has worked for the last 21 years with children from violent and poverty stricken barrios in Guatemala and Honduras. Fotokids began with 6 children living and working in Guatemala City's vast garbage dump and now has 170 students ages 7-24 from areas dominated by gangs and organized crime. Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty using technology, specifically by giving training in photography, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, graphic design, web design and video. This curriculum provides students with a means to earn a living, learn discipline, critical thinking and become leaders in their communities. In addition we provide scholarships for traditional education. We cannot function without computers and we use Macs, as that is the standard for profession photographers and designers. In a PC world you can’t imagine how difficult it is to receive donated MacIntoshs.We have received dozens of Macs from Computers for Guatemala and they are in all our classrooms from the slums of Guatemala to poor indigenous communities in the countryside. Fotokids also has a graduate-run IT design studio where we train and give internships to students. And they do actual paid client work. Students this year have produced Annual Reports, web pages, Internet catalogs etc. All of this absolutely impossible without the generous support of computers from Computers for Guatemala. They have been instrumental in giving kids a chance to change their own lives and learn a skill that is both practical and provides the opportunity to break the chains of poverty. www.fotokids.org
While serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the department of Sololá, Guatemala I had the opportunity to work with Computers for Hope in establishing two computer labs in two isolated communities I worked in without prior computer access. Don and Kirk of Computers for Hope could not have been more helpful, it was an amazingly easy process. The professionalism and integrity of the organization is very refreshing. For roughly $100, rural Guatemalan communities receive a refurbished computer, complete with Windows and Microsoft Office, as well as a Spanish language version of Wikipedia which functions offline and other educational software. With such low prices we were able to raise all of the funding for each computer lab locally within the respective communities, buying 12 computers for one community and 9 for the other. Computers for Hope also supplied us with all of the power cables and ethernet cords, as well as large router to encourage internet connectivity. I appreciated the simplicity of the project, not having to get bogged down in too much paperwork or details. We simply paid our money (which mostly goes toward the shipping costs) and went to pick up the computers a few months later.
I am a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Guatemala and I bought computers from this organization to create two computer labs in rural middle schools. I found the computers to be of good quality and the price was great, plus Don and Kirk went out of their way to be helpful, installing all the programs in Spanish (including Spanish Wikipedia) and replacing needed parts in a timely manner.
I raised money from others by telling them about the opportunity to get computers for our school from Computers for Guatemala. I received enough money to pay for 5 computers. The school helped me fill out all the information needed to get the computers. Receiving the computers inspired our school to hire another teacher who teaches Kindergarten 1/2 the time and computers the rest of the time. The computers share a room with musical instruments. With 5 computers each child can sit at their own computer to learn. One of the computers did not work right and the school was very slow to tell me about it. Even several months after getting the computer, Computers for Guatemala fixed our problem and they were very kind and nice to work with.
We recieved great personal service that helped us make the most of the computer equipment. There was follow up provided when we needed it. We expect to continue to work with the this ministry to help others benefit.
Kudos to Computers for Guatemala for all the good work they do - on a shoestring! This small-scale volunteer effort lead by a former Peace Corps volunteer has managed to provide hundreds of working computers to worthy projects throughout Guatemala. The educational component of Mayaworks, for example, has benefited directly by donations of computers for our tutoring centers. Applause for the policy of recipients paying for some of the costs. Patricia Krause, Mayaworks (founder and retired board member)
Review from Guidestar
The above negative review was written by Catherine Todd who runs a for profit businness exporting bead jewelry from Guatemala to the States. She is very angry because we did not provide her with computers, because she demanded better computers than we had and because we sensed she would be a problem. She is posting inaccurate accusations on numerous Internet sites, which allege that our organization is being investigated for fraud, while in fact she is the one doing the reporting, no one else. We are pursuing legal action in Guatemala and the States for malicious libel and defamation. Her intent is to harm our reputation and is thereby hurting the people we are trying to help in Guatemala. For information about what we do please see our web site www.computersforguatemala.org or call 917-468-4391.
Review from Guidestar
Be aware that COMPUTERS FOR HOPE / COMPUTERS FOR GUATEMALA is being investigated for FRAUD. I would not recommend any more donations be made until this matter is resolved. For more information, contact GuideStar.com and the IRS in the USA. You will find things are not in compliance there, either.
I was personally asked to put money into one of the director's personal bank account, and another one wanted personal products we produce "in exchange" for a computer for a Guatemalan nursing school. When I said "no" to both things, all hell broke loose.
These people may well and allegedly have their "hand in the cookie jar" and the facts will soon enough reveal themselves. The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but turn they do and they will. No one should take advantage of good-hearted people who think they are helping others. This needs to stop NOW.
Instead of correcting their misdeeds, they have threatened me with court action for posting their private emails to me. I welcome this as the judge and jury will have the facts presented. Computers for Hope will have to comply with the laws governing nonprofits and charities. End of story.
Sincerely, Catherine Todd, LakeAtitlanDirectory.com
Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Review from Guidestar