Servus and Trelleborg supporting future generations in Colombia

Children in school in Colombia standing in front of computers donated by Trelleborg
Trelleborg supports communities by participating in various social activities, and, in selected places, by giving dedicated support to young people’s learning and development activities. Recently, Trelleborg’s offshore operation was able to donate used computers to a community in Colombia.

Oscar Duque, Accounts Manager for North and Central America for Trelleborg’s offshore operation, co-founded a scholarship fund in 2006 for agricultural egineering students at two universities (soon-to-be three) in Colombia, South America. The name of the scholarship fund is Servus, and its mission is to help low income students who are constantly jeopardizing their permanency at University due to economic instability. 

Through a common friend and the scholarship fund branch in Palmira, Valle del Cauca, Servus connected with the Organic Coffee Growers Association (ACOC in Spanish) specifically targeting rural areas once deemed “conflict-ridden zones” due to the hostile environments surrounding the community. One of the dreams within this community and the surrounding area was to have a computer lab in their rural school for the local school children. 

Maria Nydia Sanchez from ACOC states: “I would like to thank Servus for joining forces with ACOC. Through this partnership, we were able to improve learning spaces for students in this rural area of Colombia via tools that facilitate and build collective knowledge.” 

Following a request from Oscar Duque, Trelleborg offshore’s operation was able to step in and help with a donation of used computers to provide the much needed hardware to start the computer lab. The delivery process to get the computers to the remote village of “Guayabal hamlet” in the mountains of southwest Colombia was difficult and took over four months. The struggle of their journey was compounded by the fact that transportation costs were not sponsored or covered by a donation, so Servus relied on favors.

“Trelleborg was delighted to help Oscar Duque and Servus repurpose our used laptop computers for such a worthwhile and positive cause that has an extended local impact that could last generations,” states Antony Croston, Business Group Director for Trelleborg’s offshore operation based in Houston, Texas. 

The first step in the delivery process was for Oscar Duque to carry the computers with him on a flight from Houston, Texas, to Bogota, Colombia. Thanks to a personal friend, Alex Arbelaez, who organized all the volunteers inside Colombia, Oscar Duque met up with the first Colombian transportation volunteer to hand over the computers. This person was driving to Medellin for school and agreed to transport the computers to another person that was traveling to Cali. Once in Cali, the computers were taken by another volunteer to Tulua. While in Tulua, local volunteers helped clean and install new basic software to bring the computers up-to-date. Maria Nydia Sanchez from ACOC then transported the computers to their final location. 

After the long journey and with the help of these key volunteers throughout the delivery process, the computers finally arrived in the small village of Guayabal, ensuring the current and next generation of students could benefit from the computer lab. This is the first time the students have had access to computers with more commercial software that is significantly different to the software on government issued desktop computers. The students are using the computer lab on a regular basis to learn how to familiarize themselves with using a laptop computer and practice using standard software such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Oscar Duque states, “The main belief of Servus is that through education, Colombia will have a brighter future. That is why we have been funding the scholarships for 11 years now, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Thanks to Trelleborg’s donation, we can now say we have turned a dream of a computer lab in to a reality in rural Colombia. This will help future students and possibly an entire generation of children from this small village by giving them a sense of hope, knowing that they have the power to change their lives through education. I hope we can continue to bring more computers to the area in the near future.”

Trelleborg endeavors to support local communities through various social activities to encourage young people’s learning and development activities. Visit our social engagement webpage to learn more about how we contribute to a better society.

Visit the Servus website to learn more about their mission, scholarships or how you could help.