MILLBURN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A Millburn High School junior is helping young women in Africa with their education by giving them a technical leg up.
Alexander McBride, 17, has sent nearly two dozen refurbished laptops to female students in Africa, working with a girls school in Tanzania.
“They’re just as smart as us really, but they don’t really have the — you know, they’re in poverty,” he told CBS2’s John Dias. “It’s a girls school, and I know the graduation rate is exceptionally high.”
The laptops are donated through the non-profit organization McBride started in 2015 called Laptops4Africa.
“We are a group of high school students in Millburn, N.J. who collect unwanted laptops that still work, fix small problems, add a new battery, wipe the hard drive, reload the operating system and MS Office, update all the drivers, and send them to Africa via one of our dads who travels there for work,” the group says on its website.
McBride has fixed up 21 donated laptops so far.
“If you need to do research, you need to look things up on the internet. Or you need to type papers, or you need to make presentations – you can’t just do that all by hand,” he said.
It could take him anywhere from a couple days to a couple months to refurbish a laptop.
“It’s worth it in the end, and I know I am going to do something for the greater good,” he said.
McBride’s teachers say the teen is a leader at the school, and they’re impressed by his skills.
“I would definitely say he’s a prodigy in terms of the hardware side of it and he’s also very, very good at the software sire of it – he’s very intelligent,” said computer science teacher David Farrell.
He’s using his brain to turn what many see as trash into treasure.
“Sometimes Americans can be a little wasteful of computers. They say, ‘Oh it’s not working, we are done with that.’ But in reality, if you put a little bit of work into it, you can get it working,” he said.
The group has partnered with AfricAid, a girls leadership training school in Tanzania. AfricAid distributes the laptops to graduates heading to university.