Parramatta YCW putting new life into old computers

By Elizabeth McFarlane
Greg Tsiamoulis, Rafael Tordilla and Phillip Tsiamoulis hope the services will help to transform lives. Photos: Elizabeth McFarlane.

The Parramatta Young Christian Workers (YCW) is calling on parishes, schools and organisations to donate older or unwanted computers and laptops that can be refurbished for re-use.

The demand for refurbished computers is high but the service requires suppliers to be able to run.

Located at 25 Union Street, Granville, the Parramatta YCW House is filled with the gentle hum of computers.

Every Saturday, young volunteers can be found inspecting the cavities of old machines.

They are currently refurbishing old computers from St Joseph’s Parish in Kingswood to send to East Timor, where 60% of the population is under 25 years of age. The majority of these young people are considered unemployed.

One young woman who will benefit from the refurbished computers is Elia, whose university studies were interrupted when she gave birth and became a single parent.

When she is able to work, it is low paid or unpaid work in the hospitality industry.

The refurbished computers will be utilised to provide Elia with support in monitoring job advertisements, updating her resume, writing applications for relevant jobs and preparing for interviews.

The YCW is also running similar services in our Diocese in Parramatta and Granville.

The YCW is a Catholic movement with the mission to engage young people and form them in the faith through community action, reflection and review.

Rafael Tordilla, the Project Worker for the Parramatta YCW, coordinates Computer Classes and Job Club Services in Parramatta Library and Granville Library, as well as the Computer Refurbishment service.

The services work to transform the lives of disadvantaged people in the community. Together, they provide resources, training in the use of those resources and insight into how to use those new skills to find employment.

“The Computer Refurbishment service aims to make sure nothing goes to waste and that the resources go to a good place,” Rafael said.

“But the service fulfils a greater mission than simply reducing waste. It engages young people to use their gifts and talents to help others. The more suppliers we have, the more volunteers we will need.

“It is important to engage with more young people so that we can support them in reflection on how their faith plays out in the volunteer work they undertake.”

Without the dedicated volunteers, the services would not run and it is their willingness to give up their time to give back that Rafael finds inspiring.

“We need passionate and dedicated volunteers.  The services wouldn’t exist without them. The services belong to them. The way they run and how they are organised is largely dependent on them,” he said.

“I see their faith being put into action. They choose to be here on a Saturday morning and that passion to make a difference is inspiring.”

One of the key volunteers is Phillip Tsiamoulis, a software developer for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

“Phillip is basically the lynchpin for the service. If he ever goes, he will be very difficult to replace. His skills are not limited to computing. He has electrical skills and he trains other volunteers to sustain the service,” Rafael explained.

Phillip has a great passion for computers and volunteering.

“Computers have always been a part of me. It’s just something I really enjoy. The fact that I can share what I enjoy with other people and that they also want to learn is rewarding,” he said.

Phillip installs open source software on to old hardware. This allows the old computers to run smoothly.

“To put it simply, open source software means you’re provided all of the code so you can develop the operating system. Linux is free open source software, and you can run multi-functional operating systems like Zorin OS on it,” he said.

“Once installed, you can use old hardware. Microsoft is closed and therefore you can’t see how it runs. It’s also more expensive and more susceptible to viruses.

“This refurbishment revitalises old hardware and overrides all of the issues associated with using Microsoft on old hardware.”

But volunteering for the Computer Refurbishment service does not require a thorough understanding of operating systems.

“It helps if you know a bit about the components of a computer. But having said that, if you’re dedicated, a good listener and have some Lego-building skills, you can volunteer for this service,” Rafael said.

“The issue is not the number of volunteers we have. We have the volunteers. We need suppliers to maintain this service.”

For more information on the services provided by the Parramatta Young Christian Workers and to donate computers and laptops, please contact:

Rafael Tordilla

Project Officer

Parramatta YCW


Tel: (02) 9682 6719

Mobile: 0412 536 753


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