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Del Norte High students refurbish electronics for refugees

Posted at 5:13 PM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 11:28:39-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Laptop by laptop, a group of Del Norte High students are helping bridge the digital divide.

At his home in Rancho Bernardo, 16-year-old Alvin Zheng is spending his summer break, fixated on electronic devices. Specifically, he’s repairing them.

“Knowing where these devices going to end up is fulfilling work,” said Zheng.

It all began months before the pandemic when Zheng got a job at a repair shop for electronics, where devices were frequently left behind by customers.

“The amount of devices that sat in storage rooms that were never used … I thought, ‘Why not put these devices to good use?’” said Zheng.

About a year ago, Zheng and two of his tech-savvy friends, and fellow Del Norte High student Rohan Agarwal and Gary Liang, started the nonprofit Technology Relief Initiative and began collecting old devices and giving them new life.

“Laptops, phone, tablets … Broken screens, sometimes they need a new battery, sometimes new storage,” said Zheng.

So far, they've repaired and refurbished nearly 100 devices. The teens have partnered with groups like International Rescue Committee, which has distributed those devices to local refugees, people that otherwise may not have had access to technology or opportunity.

“Feels surreal to be a part of changing their lives forever, to have a big, positive impact on their lives,” said Agarwal.

“Putting a device in the hands of someone who needs it is the best feeling in the world,” said Zheng. “There’s such a big divide between those who do have access and those who do not, and our goal is to close that divide.”

The group’s needs include device donations and funds to buy electronic parts.