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Computers in Cambodia

Computers in CambodiaTufts sophomore Constantin Sabet D’Acre is working to establish a computer center in Cambodia through his non-profit, International Funds for Children’s Computer Assistance.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.12.07] It was during a 2005 family trip to Cambodia that Tufts sophomore Constantin Sabet D'Acre first contemplated starting his own nonprofit. Struck by the number of orphaned children he saw in the Southeast Asian country, D'Acre began thinking about how young people living in Cambodian orphanages could benefit from a computer center.

"Everywhere you go, you see kids running around the streets, either hurt [from landmines] or orphaned," he explains. "I came back not feeling great."

The desire to help spurred D'Acre to action. Back in his native Paris, he and a friend discussed the idea of a developing a computer center that would work with an orphanage to provide children with what D'Acre says are two of the most marketable skills for working in the Cambodian tourist industry - English proficiency and computer literacy.

During that conversation, the seeds for his nonprofit, International Funds for Children's Computer Assistance (IFCCA), were sown, but D'Acre knew that he'd need technical support in this endeavor. He turned to Enfants d'Asie ASPECA, a French nonprofit that is dedicated to helping underprivileged children across Southeast Asia. He also gained the support of Tufts' own PANGEA, a student group that promotes awareness of global issues.

With the help of these groups, D'Acre has embarked on fundraising efforts-ranging from movie screenings to wristband sales-to reach the goal of 10,000 Euros necessary to launch the center. In addition to eight computers, two printers and software, the money will pay for the construction and maintenance of the building, which will be located in Battambang, a province in northwest Cambodia.

"It is nice to have the budget already established," Constantin says. "You know exactly where the money is going to go - how much and for what. Those working with us like that."

But the quest for the center has not been without obstacles. In looking for support, D'Acre was competing for student and media attention with other pressing issues, such as the Sudanese genocide. Furthermore, the process of appealing for tax exemption in the United States has been a difficult process. "[The hurdles] in raising awareness for good causes are really interesting," he says.

Despite the difficulties, IFCCA is making progress. The non-profit raised more than $1,000 within a few months of its inception, and anticipates much more in the coming months. Meanwhile, a core group of nearly a dozen students is reaching out to attract others to the cause.

With fundraising efforts still underway, D'Acre predicts the center will be fully complete within "a matter of months," ready to help Cambodian children gain skills that could help them attain a brighter future.

But for D'Acre, the project has already resulted in immense personal benefit.

"It has really taught me what it means to work with people," he explains. "It is great to see the efficiency of a group working toward the same goals, and seeing people so interested. It will be great to see the center complete."

-- Molly Frizzell, A'09

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