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Camp Atterbury computer lab becomes a reality thanks to community donations

Computer Lab.jpg
Posted at 8:46 PM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 20:53:08-04

INDIANA — A big technology donation from an Indianapolis company is helping thousands of Afghan refugees in Indiana.

Last week, WRTV introduced you to a Fishers woman who was working to establish a computer lab at Camp Atterbury so children could get the education they needed to succeed in America.

After the story aired, Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives said it became inspired to make the computer lab become a reality.

On Thursday, the company donated around 100 laptops and tablets, which is enough to fully stock the lab.

"I would say my heart is full," Rupal Thanawala said.

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Brand new tablets and refurbished laptops will soon make their way to Camp Atterbury, serving as an outlet for success for thousands of Afghan refugees. And, they’ll also have access to English programs, opportunities to build their resumes, as well as searching for jobs and housing.

“They will basically just log in, set up accounts and get to work," IEA's Senior President of Technology, Brian Newgent said. "It was very important that we handed it over, ready to go on day one. I was very, very serious and passionate when I said I want this computer lab up and running this week and that’s my goal."

Newgent said he saw WRTV's story last week with Thanawala.

"And I looked at my wife and said, 'I am going to build these people a computer lab next week,'" he recalled.

He rallied his team to help.

"One of the things that jumped out in the story was how she was celebrating having six laptops already and I said, 'Oh boy, we are going to do something about that,'" Newgent said.

Thanawala said she’s thankful for the all of the support from local tech companies and the community.

"Within 24 hours, I was bombarded with emails, phones, donations. In just a very short time, we have crossed our goal. We have collected more than what I planned. We have all these brand new tablets and laptops thanks to IEA and many other companies that have come forward," Thanawala said.

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Indianapolis BDPA is also playing a major role in this project, which focuses on STEM and diversity.

Board member, Daniel Pierson, said this computer lab is just the beginning of a great partnership.

"This was just an opportunity of a lifetime to work on something very important for the people" Pierson explained.

Thanawala added that thanks to an abundance of donations she's now hoping to expand to the program to other bases housing refugees.

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