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Over 200 laptops for Calgary’s Syrian refugees thanks to Siemens


June 29, 2016
By Renée Francoeur
Siemens Canada employee Luc Portelance affixes Arabic language stickers to a keyboard at a workshop preparing computers for donation to Syrian refugees in Calgary. Photo courtesy Siemens Canada.

June 29, 2016 – Decommissioned laptops received a second life thanks to Siemens and three charities working to ease the transition to Canadian life for Syrian refugees in Calgary, Alta. Siemens employees, charity representatives and Syrian families volunteered at a workshop to complete the refurbishment of the 230 computers that began earlier this month at Siemens’ Canadian headquarters in Oakville, Ont. The workshop was conducted by Corporations For Community Connections (CFCC), a registered Canadian charity founded by Siemens employees, and the laptops will be distributed by the Centre for Newcomers and Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association.

“I commend Siemens and its employees for reaching out to the Syrian refugees through their laptop refurbishment program. It will immensely benefit these new Canadians as they start their new life in Canada. To Siemens we say thank you,” said Deepak Obhrai, the member Parliament for Calgary Forest Lawn. Obhrai joined the volunteers to test and clean the computers as well as customize them with both English and Arabic language capability.

Over the last four years, Siemens has partnered with CFCC to donate and refurbish 1371 computers valued at $325,000, and supported 28 charitable organizations, serving more than 7000 people. More than 300 Siemens Canada employees have volunteered 2700 hours participating in the workshops, the company adds.

This year, Siemens Canada says it will donate over $115,000 in financial support and gifts-in-kind, toward the refurbishment of its decommissioned computers.

“Access to technology is something most of us take for granted, but it can be incredibly difficult to navigate today’s digital world without it,” explains Robert Hardt, CEO of Siemens Canada. “Our hope is that the donated laptops will help these new Canadians feel more connected, and help them achieve their goals for life here.”

CFCC’s inception was inspired by discussions between three Siemens Canada employees (CFCC founders Philip Schaus, Otto Rathke, and Chris Campbell) about the wasteful disposal processes in place in most corporations for what is typically three-year-old corporate hardware.

The refurbishment process involves removal of all data from hard drives, as well as physical cleaning, installation of licensed software and testing.