A BT manager from Fulwood has been rewarded for his innovation and determination in helping disadvantaged children in Zambia.
Fletcher Kusaloka, 53, took decommissioned computers from his office to his home country and old school so more than 250 students could sit their ICT exams.
Electronics retailer dabs.com, which is part of BT Business where Fletcher works as a buyer, recently changed its desktop computers for new ones. So when Fletcher read that the Zambian government was introducing ICT into the school curriculum but weren’t providing computers yet, he hatched an idea to send the newly redundant equipment.
He said: “The computers were going to be thrown in the skip, so I had an idea and I walked into my manager’s office. She asked how many I wanted.”
The computers were cleaned and Mr Kusaloka began preparations to take the three monitors and five computers out to Zambia when he visited family in the country.
But he had to overcome many obstacles getting them to the village of Mwinilunga, including the courier pulling out 24 hours before pick-up; five days of paperwork with customs, three government departments and 12 offices and a drive of over 11 hours to reach the final destination.
Mr Kusaloka, who came to Lancashire from Zambia in 2003, said: “It was hard work, but really worth it.
“I didn’t realise how desperate the Mwinilunga village was for computers. If they hadn’t received them when they did, the school would have had to cancel the ICT exams.
“I also didn’t realise there would be a proper ceremony when we got there - I hadn’t prepared a speech!”
Thanks to the donation, 250 students at the high school where Mr Kusaloka and his wife Loveness both attended, now study ICT and sit exams.
The school now tops Zambian league tables for pupils sitting ICT exams.
On February 29, Mr Kusaloka received the Social Innovation of the Year award at the BT Chairman’s Awards from BT chairman Sir Michael Rake at BT Tower in London.
He added: “It was unbelievable to get the award.”