“What struck me the most about [my first donation] was how simply putting an unused computer in a suitcase and bringing it to Guinea was going to have a life-altering impact on somebody. I remember bringing one of the first Globetops computers to a woman named Mariama Bangoura. She is a powerhouse who doesn’t need anybody’s help,” Becky Morrison, CEO of Globetops, remembers.
Bangoura is a principal of a school with about 600 students and zero computers. Most of Bangoura’s time was spent manually tracking attendance and grades. The amount of work led to her eyes becoming fatigued and she would accidentally misplace a tally causing her to redo half a days work.
Owning a laptop would give Bangoura the same chance other principals get; she can stop worrying about tedious things and can plan a future for the school and children.
“When I was finally able to present her with a laptop, the best way to describe her face was shock, then pure joy,” Morrison recalls. “Her reaction was both humbling and beautiful.”
The fast growing technological world has made laptops increasingly important in daily life. So much so, that people will gladly take donations. I would know, because I’m writing this article on a laptop that was donated to me by a dear friend who wanted me to continue my writing endeavors.
Which is why it’s so appropriate that I’m writing this article about Globetops, a nonprofit where used laptops are refurbished and then shipped around the globe to those in need. Several weeks after receiving a laptop from my friend, I was tasked with interviewing Morrison Morrison—founder and CEO of Globetops. I started to research and educate myself on this wonderful venture of her’s, which brings together people by connecting them through technology. It alters the power structure, and encourages people to look at the donor and recipient as equals.
There was actually a bit more kismet at play: I started to correspond with Morrison while she was away in Dublin, which happened to be where I was exactly a year ago. How incredibly small the world is. If we only knew and talked to each other, we would be able to bridge the gap between our differences, and get to know one another. This happens to be part of the mission of Globetops, which is an additional reason why it’s so fantastic.
“[Globetops] reinforces the notion that we’re all connected. We may wear different clothes and live in different environments, but at our core we’re all one,” Morrison said. “This is meant to give a sense of geography, and share experiences with people from different countries. It’s important because it helps create social responsibility. We have to get that we’re all connected, and take care of each other.”
Morrison stressed the importance of bringing awareness to the amount of waste as a population we create. Globetops presents a way to eliminate a large amount of our electronic waste, and allow our laptops to live a “full life,” rather than throw them away.
“Where is ‘away’?” Morrison asked.
She has a point. The idea of there being a magical place to discard things so we never have to deal with them again is an illusion that helps one sleep better at night, but it is an illusion. And as we know from our indoctrination into the necessity of recycling, we will have to deal with our waste sooner rather than later. There are solutions to this conundrum and Globetops is one of them.
Globetops helps answer the question, “What if we contributed more than we consumed?” And it does it while giving the opportunity to develop relationships and positively impact someone.
“Some make the argument that technology keeps us away from experiences, but really, it gives opportunities,” Morrison explains. “It allows people the time to get to know one another, when under standard circumstances, they wouldn’t.”
I asked Morrison, given her circumstances as a producer, working on such projects as Sunday Night Football and content for the last U2 tour, how does she manage to juggle her career as well as her philanthropy with Globetops?
“I don’t consider it juggling so much as different ways of achieving the same thing. We can keep doing things between 5 p.m. and 2 a.m.,” Morrison said. “The day exists beyond nine to five. There are lots of hours in the day.”
For most, it is hard to fathom time beyond the hours of our work week, as any free time is left to winding down, or spent on social endeavors. This isn’t a bad thing, but in its way, it is a very provincial way to go about life.
Sometimes, we forget to consider others, the planet, and our own growth and development. An organization like Globetops may not only help in putting us in touch with people beyond our hometown, but it might very well help inspire us to see things more fully, to live life more humbly, to recognize all that we take for granted, and to make better use of the time allotted to us. That last bit—making better use of time—I attribute that directly to Morrison specifically. She, like her organization, is an inspiration.
“My personal mission is to spread light. Light is meant to be shared,” Morrison said. “When I’m gone, I want people to say, ‘I felt her light and love.’ To me, that would be a life worth living.”
This made me curious about the longevity of Globetops, and what the future of the organization might be. Right now it’s her and a few volunteers. When Morrison explained her vision and hope for the future, she said, “I want it to impact millions. I want to enable people to fulfill on their own visions for the world.”
Already, Globetops has a hub in Guinea where recipients get a free training course. This effort is about to be expanded to Haiti, Kenya and India. All laptops currently have a 30 day warranty as well. Down the line, Morrison hopes to create centers where recipients can collaborate and come together. In 10 years, she wants to add tablets and cell phones to the donation mix, and let even more electronics live out their lives in their entirety.
To do this, Morrison acknowledges she also has to change the perspective on waste in general. “‘Disposable’ is not the way forward,” she says. She wishes to change the way we relate to waste, and how we view people in the developing world. She sees Globetops as a growing evolution.
Of course, it’s still young. On occasion, things can go wrong. Batteries can die, the device may not work. Sometimes the laptop can even be stolen. Still, Morrison is working away at finding solutions and different actions for loss prevention. Pushback and bad times have had a hard time slowing her down, be it in her personal or professional life. I wonder where she gets her strength from.
“It’s born out of desire to serve.”
Morrison has offered up some powerful words to live by. Her dedication and perseverance have touched a nerve within me, and hopefully within you, dear reader.
Photos by Jordan Engle