Michael Chen has a passion for building computers. The grade 11 student at St. George’s School has boxes of old computers, monitors and keyboards in his bedroom and basement.
“What I do is strip them down for their parts,” he explained. However, the computers he builds are not for himself – he donates them to families in need.
“As we know, COVID has been very difficult on some families,” Chen said, pointing to the necessity of having internet-ready tech to allow for virtual learning.
“Some families have to share one device with like, three siblings, which is really hard for online education,” he said.
Chen and some of his friends have started an organization called “Fair For All,” which has secured around 80 old laptops and computers from friends, family and local businesses.
“Of course, some of these computers are not always fixable,” Chen said, adding he can always mine older computers for parts to upgrade other models.
So far, he has refurbished 50 computers, around 30 of which have been donated to families with students attending Vancouver’s Thunderbird Elementary school.
“Michael is a remarkable young man,” said Camilla Ting, a teacher at Thunderbird Elementary. “He has really worked towards making a difference during this pandemic.”
Chen said there is now a waiting list for his refurbished computers, so he is asking for donations of computers, monitors, keyboards and mice.
Even older models are welcome. “I would say around 10 to 15 years (old)… I would be able to fix it and give new life to the technology and give it to families so they can use it for another two to three years.”
Link to Fair For All website for people who’d like to donate: www.ffaworld.org