September, 2019
Welcome to Cristina Connections
Honoring our Partners in the Cristina Network
PCs for Refugees was founded in 2016 because its founder and President, Riad Sbai and the leader of an all volunteer team, Yaseen Jamaludeen, believe that computers are a necessity in today’s world. It is their strong conviction that the lack of a computer or internet access can be a major barrier to achieving ones life goals. This passion to correct that lack drives their commitment to help refugees more effectively integrate into their new communities. It supplements education, aids in job creation skills, and hopefully provides a segue into digital skill development. For people who seek to reclaim their lives, “They are much needed tools to get them back on their feet," Yaseen Jamaluden explains.  
PC for Refugees is an nonprofit 501c3 all volunteer organization based in Tempe, Arizona. They have chosen to assist refugees who have left Africa, Asia, the Indian sub-continent and the Middle East who have left their home countries to escape difficult and often dangerous conditions. The refugees have no prospects or hope in their home country and now seek to build a new life. The charities who welcome them to Arizona include the International Rescue Committee (IRC) based in Tucson, the Welcome to America Project based in Tempe and the Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest. All help them to get settled.

PCs for Refugees works closely with these groups because they identify the people who need technology support. Previously used technology donated from corporations and the broader community are refurbished and given a productive second life by volunteers from around the community. Internship programs with high school students and service learning internships in cooperation with Arizona State University students help with refurbishment and software installation, transportation and as trainers. 

Examples of donors of equipment are Intel Corporation, local synagogues, churches and mosques, and the broader community. Donations are facilitated both through an online donation system developed by the National Cristina Foundation as well as through equipment and collective support provided by some of the Foundation’s partner community of nonprofit refurbishers, AFTRR . There is no cost to the recipients. Since 2016, 3,000 individuals in the Phoenix area now have easy access to a much needed tool in their own home because of PCs for Refugees important work. Many who have been trained are proud to help new users.

Thank you PCs for Refugees for your tireless work to connect people in need to new horizons and and a world of new hope.
Simon was a bank manager when he had to flee from Ethiopia as an ethnic Eritrean who couldn’t return or secure permanent legal status in Ethiopia. His English and computer skills are still not quite strong enough to try for an entry level banking job. Around his work schedule, he spends all of his time roaming from the library to the  Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest  office to get computer time. He’s amazingly eager to learn everything he can. With a PCs for Refugees desk top of his own, he’ll have more time to learn and enjoy his safe, stable new life. We think he’ll be a banker someday!

Did you know that there are about 1.5 million people in the United States who are legally blind, and about thirty million people who are visually impaired? For people who have been newly diagnosed because of their loss of vision, coming to the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts gives them an important chance to learn not to be afraid of being blind. 

As a full service agency, the Carroll Center (established in 1936) helps people who have lost their vision or are dealing with the challenges of blindness or low vision to get the help they need to go on to lead more independent and fulfilling lives. They come to the Carroll Center from throughout the United States and stay for a residency of several months. Services for individuals of all ages include vision rehabilitation services, vocational and transition programs, assistive technology training, educational support, services for seniors, and an optical shop. People take full advantage of the Center’s comprehensive services so that they can gain the skills and confidence to become self sufficient and independent. No one should be trapped in a situation of “learned helplessness” because they are not given sufficient experiences to do things on their own. 

The overall objective of the Carroll Center’s Assistive Technology Project i s to enable individuals to become independent users of computers and adaptive technologies for academic performance, independent living, socialization and general access to their environments. They have received many computers for this purpose through the National Cristina Foundation.
The Carroll Center teaches families and professionals important ways computers can be made accessible to individuals who are blind or are visually impaired. They use donated computers to help the families who do not have the financial means to acquire a computer at home (and to keep that computer updated for accessibility every few years). Individuals within school settings are given priority to the portable and laptop systems that can be utilized in class and at home. Computers for seniors and consumers who do not have computer systems at home but do work or are in school are also a priority. The Carroll Center has special seminars for children, parents and teachers for those who are participating in the Assistive Technology Project. 
For the many who have passed through the doors of the Carroll Center for the Blind it has been a challenging journey. Many families and places did not know how to help them before they found this organization. What does a young person or an adult need to overcome the fear of being blind or to deal with reduced vision?  

What do we all need, when we hit a challenge in life? You know most of these - passion to overcome, determination to succeed, social and emotional maturity, and the courage to learn independence. For the people who need to learn how to deal with their vision loss, thank you Carroll Center for your roadmap to a full life.

THE GOAL: Personal Freedom
Every day we use our senses to help us better understand our surroundings. Summer students in the CarrollKids program went on a multi-sensory journey learning about lizards and reptiles. We heard the melodic hiss of a snake, felt the different textures of the reptiles' skin and even smelled their unusual scents. With many giggles and laughs, both children and staff even experienced some unplanned liquids on their hands as part of this great sensory experience!
What value can you place on nonprofit organizations who help people acquire skills to help them learn to believe in themselves as people with abilities and capable of being productive workers and providers to their families? Their work is not just a helping hand. Its social impact is far greater than that.

We at National Cristina Foundation think their value is beyond measure. Indeed incalculable! It is work that preserves the fabric of our society.
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