The volunteers from the U.S. Chapter of the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation presented 108 computers to a school in El Salvador on Aug. 2 to realize the students' dream of learning through computers.
Computers equipped with Spanish software, along with 50 computer desks, were gathered by Tzu Chi volunteers in Miami where many Spanish-speaking people reside.
A ceremony marking the opening of the computer lab was held at the school located in the Great Love Village in Chanmico, the second community Tzu Chi has built in El Salvador for victims of the 2001 earthquake. The community includes 834 homes, a school, a medical center, and a recreational center.
Some 90 Tzu Chi volunteers as well as volunteer medical personnel belonging to the Tzu Chi International Medical Association, who just concluded a three-day free clinic in El Salvador, attended the ceremony.
The school now has more than 700 students ranging from kindergarten to grade-8. The students gave performances for the visitors to express their thanks for Tzu Chi's gift.
The Tzu Chi plan to provide computers for El Salvador was prompted by the conversation between a student and then El Salvador's President Francisco Flores at a ceremony marking the inauguration of the Great Love Village in Chanmico on Oct. 31, 2003.
Seeing the sketch a student was making,, the president asked him, "What's that?" The student replied, "It depicts I'm playing computer."
When Dharma Master Cheng Yen, founder of the Tzu Chi Foundation, heard this conversation on a Da Ai TV* program, she told the U.S. Tzu Chi volunteer in charge of Tzu Chi's construction project in El Salvador, "Can we realize the dream of the students there as soon as possible?"
Through his arrangement, the Miami chapter of Tzu Chi began a drive to collect used computers at the start of this year. Some people in California and North Carolina also responded to the campaign. In some cases, the donors bought new computers to show their support.
The 108 computers and 50 computer desks were shipped from the United States to El Salvador in mid-July, together with some medical equipment that was used in the free clinic event at the end of July.
* Da Ai TV is a wholesome family channel set up by Tzu Chi. It programs can be viewed via satellite on all five continents, 24 hours a day.