Laptop drive for Hoi An

John Herron is pictured with Ha at Hoi An.

Old, discarded laptops and electronics from the Macedon Ranges are changing lives of everyday people from Hoi An, Vietnam.

Kyneton-Gisborne-based lawyer John Herron is leading a ‘laptop drive’ to connect people from Hoi An with more job and educational opportunities.

“The cost of a good laptop equates to about six months’ wages in Vietnam,” Mr Herron said.

“It’s not affordable to the average working person, but especially for those who have no regular income.”

Mr Herron learnt of the need through his online Vietnamese tutor Ha (vo thì Hà).

They began lessons nine months ago via a video link and all ran smoothly until one day Ha was 30 minutes late to their scheduled session.

“She eventually managed to contact me and was stressed because her laptop had broken. She explained she had trouble locating one to use,” Mr Herron said.

Soon to visit Vietnam on business, Mr Herron purchased her an inexpensive laptop in Australia before he departed.

The simple transaction meant Ha could continue her online teaching without much delay. Her gratitude made Mr Herron realise just how valuable connecting the community through technology was and how it could help many others if only they had access.

He put out a call on social media for anyone with old laptops ‘collecting dust’ who wanted to give them a new life.

“The response has been good. People have expressed a lot of interest,” he said.

Mr Herron has already collected eight laptops and two iPads as a direct result, with further equipment donations pledged.

He arranges for the equipment delivery, paying for the postage himself, and has already delivered two laptops to be rehomed. His goal is to send about 20 to 30 laptops as part of the drive.

Donations of general electronic equipment such as old headphones, tablets and mobile phones, are also welcomed through the project.

Anyone wishing to donate their old goods is advised to first wipe their hard drive of data. This can be done by the individual or by sourcing an IT expert.

Ha has connected with a tech specialist who has offered to then refurbish the devices for free before they are rehomed.

“This will help people working online like me. It will help people to study online. Through this project I can help a lot of people,” she said.

One of the laptops has been gifted to a single mother who is now able to work from home selling her goods online while caring for her newborn child.

Anyone interested in donating their old laptops, tablets or accessories, can deliver them to John Herron at Ranges Legal in Kyneton or Gisborne.