Most of us try to help whenever possible, but then there are some people who take aid to the next level. For those, we stand in awe, wondering how we can be a little bit more like them.
The burden of support is ignored by many. The primitive justifications of not helping a homeless man or refusing charitable donations all seem to have a logic that’s hidden deep down within anyone’s thoughts. Pandora’s box should not be open, unless a change is to be made. With that, the world turns, the rich get richer and the afflicted die hungry.
Then, there is the occasional hope that cuts through the wall of apathy that just may do something to help a lucky few not to be forced to live through a lifetime of hell. People like Gareth Scott, founder of Tech Aid, take a little and do a lot with it. Tech Aid works to reuse and appropriate old corporate or private computers by cleaning off any data and updating the machines to later be given to schools and students who need them in Cambodia.
Humbly starting an IT business at the age of 19 in a small town in Pembrokeshire County, Scott unknowingly laid the foundation for a future laced with goodwill. Though the shop grew and eventually became something of a regional success, a sense of boredom quickly began to set in.
“By the time I got to 25 years old, I thought okay, I want to go travel to see what it’s all about. So, I ended up in Thailand,” said Scott of his initial experience abroad. For a short while, Thailand filled the void of excitement: the parties, meeting people and thinking about the future. Then it all quickly changed.
“I later met a lovely American lady who shortly asked me if I wanted to come [with her] to Cambodia,” he explained. Despite not being offered much explanation about what was happening there, Scott was up for the experience and he naturally joined along for the ride.
“When we got to the border of Cambodia, we left the convenience and sturdy roads in Thailand [and arrived] to dust. As soon as we crossed over, there were cracked roads and naked children running around asking for a dollar. I just didn’t understand it,” he quietly mentioned. Suddenly, things had become real, after the rapid departure from the paradise he had unceremoniously left behind in Thailand.
“When we got to the border of Cambodia, we left the convenience and sturdy roads in Thailand [and arrived] to dust.”
“[From the border,] we drove to a place called Siem Reap. As soon as you step into [that area], you’re back into complete development. Perhaps feeling a lot like you’re back in Thailand, except the beer’s half the price. You [quickly] forget about what you just saw at the border,” he continues.
Sometime later, the pair found themselves in Battambang Province at a site far removed from the organization found at Siem Reap. The situation here is direr and it’s obvious on the streets.
“One day while we were sitting outside eating, a young boy across the road was watching us. I paid $1.50 for the meal and I’m looking at this boy watching me eat, thinking about the people begging for money and how I kind of just step over them. So, while all this was happening, I started to wonder why this wasn’t affecting me, and then suddenly it did,” he admits. A change had blossomed within him, slowly altering the way he perceived reality, the world and himself.
“The next day, I decided to visit a local school. I think in any culture, if you talk to the children, they’ll show you the truth about what’s happening because they still don’t understand the basics of their place in society,” he rationalized. Scott explained that the school was fine, but the children had nothing.
After playing with the pupils for a while, he offered to send the headmaster some pens and pencils for the students. Of course, the administrator agreed and so Scott asked for his email address to organize it. He had no email or any computer.
“I found it very bizarre that in this day and age, a school would have no computer access. I started thinking, okay, we have some laptops in the UK, I can send one or two over when I have the time. It sort of just started spiraling deeper after that,” he offered, eyes full of wonder as he recapped his progress to the epiphany.
A couple of computers here and there has now turned into a hundred computers at a time. It’s safe to say his charity is now growing rapidly, but it hasn’t been easy.
“In the beginning, the hardest part was registering as a charitable cause and making everything official in the UK, which took a lot of my time,” he said. The Cambodian government has been a bit more challenging, but mostly as a result of the unfamiliarity. They seem happy to work with Scott and grant him surprising assistance, wherever possible.
For those people wanting to help out wherever they can and thinking about starting a charity in a strange new land, Scott reminds us to do whatever we can and essentially, go with the flow.
“You never really have any power when you work abroad. You can only really depend on the people you work with and the trick with that is finding the right individuals to help you with your goal. Ultimately, everyone knows you’re the one actually doing the work that matters.”
For more information on Tech Aid, please visit their website at www.techaid.help