A couple of expats in Gwangju are using their ability to bring electronics back from the dead to raise money for PCs for orphanages.
Heino Botes and Steven Loach ― who form a Facebook team called GwangJu MacPC guys ― are auctioning off resurrected PCs and other electronics on Facebook.
“Originally what we were going to do was collect the computers from people, fix them and give them to the orphans, but we didn’t want to create a bad atmosphere at the orphanage,” he said, explaining that the donated PCs of different ages and qualities might cause rivalry or fighting among the children.
“So instead of giving them the laptops, we’re going to sell them and buy brand new ones with warranty, and so basically they’ve all got the same computer,” he said.
Orphanages are a popular charity for expats here, as they are often looking for volunteers and teachers.
“For me, I want to help, but actually I’m quite shy, so my way of helping is more behind the scenes and trying to make money for them,” he said.
For Loach, the Mac half of the team, fixing electronics was a hobby in his native England, and he enjoys the puzzle-like aspect of it.
“You start at the corner and see where it’s connected to and follow it around until it’s all flowing,” he said. “It’s not easy, that’s why most people can’t do it, but we have the facilities to do it.”
He had stopped doing this once coming to Korea, but got back into it after someone with a broken machine discovered his magic touch. Soon after he met Botes, his PC counterpart, who has a BGA machine for checking solder connections and has been mending local residents’ electronics for years. They quickly found themselves inundated.
“Actually, as it goes on, it’s surprising just how many people not just in Gwangju but the whole of Korea are coming to us with their computers,” said Loach.
He said that expats here find it difficult to get things repaired and that the prices are often very high.
“Someone quoted me this morning saying that she wants to get a new hard drive for her computer because her hard drive died, which is not a big deal. It would cost me 55,000 won for a new hard drive, but the Korean workshop was going to charge her 900,000 won,” he explained. “She said she bought the whole computer used for 260,000 won.”
The auctions are not limited to PCs, and the group accepts donations of electrical items to be fixed or auctioned off. Loach says they can fix most types of electronics.
Loach says he and Botes do not really have a specific target they are aiming to reach, noting that the need for computers at orphanages is not likely to end.
To find out more and see the items being auctioned, find the “Gwangju Orphanages Fund Raising Auctions” group page on Facebook.
By Paul Kerry (email@example.com)