A TOY Santa Claus who knows how to wipe and update old laptops
Since 1995, my mother has been actively involved in and responsible for the development and running of the City of Zürich’s Group Project for War Traumatized Children and Teenagers (Gruppenprojekt für kriegstraumatisierte Kinder und Jugendliche). Her impressive work with refugees has always been something I look up to and strive to one day emulate. Over the years, the project has offered therapy and a safe space to close to a thousand refugee minors in the City of Zürich. It has allowed these kids to process the unimaginable traumas they experienced at such a young age and integrate themselves into school and society despite their backgrounds.
For one of my TOY Cap projects, I visited the group therapy session dressed as Sami Chlaus. We sat in a circle while the kids told me about themselves, their history, and their future dreams. This group of kids was a mixture from Syria, Eritrea, Pakistan, and Ivory Coast (Ages 9-12). All have lost close family members and seen or been the victims of acts of violence no child should have to go through. At times, it was extremely difficult to stay in character as they told Sami Chlaus some of their tragic stories and experiences. As Sami Chlaus, I told them how proud I was of them for their progress, their work in school, and the challenges they have overcome. The kids themselves loved the experience. They smiled and laughed and could just be kids again while experiencing the Swiss Sami Chlaus tradition. The most remarkable takeaway was how all these kids had one thing in common: They were happy and grateful to simply be able to go to school and learn.
In the same vein, an opportunity for another TOY Cap project arose during the Covid Pandemic. Unprepared for the quick change to remote learning, many refugee teenagers in Zurich were not sufficiently digitalized to keep up with the school requirements. These kids were already hit harder by the pandemic, which made keeping up in school so important. My mother reached out to me if I had any old laptops for some of the kids in her therapy. All I had to do was ask the TOY community, and within the first week, I already had 5 laptops. I completely wiped and cleaned up the laptops before setting them up with some basic freeware and tools that were needed. The refurbished laptops were given to various young adults finishing school and looking for their first apprenticeship. And so, over the past 3 years, I have been able to collect around 30 laptops, 5 tablets, and 10 smartphones that have then, in turn, been passed on to refugee teenagers and families or other low-income families.
At times I reached my technical limits when a computer was too far gone or old for my capabilities. These were donated to WirLernenWeiter, a more professional organization that does great work in recycling technology for those in need. On an individual basis, I will continue to accept laptops in good condition and repurpose those for teenagers in need. I already have two lined up for this next month, again thanks to the TOY Community 😊
Love and TOY, Jed