Retailers Give Back Through RetailROI

Photo courtesy of RetailROI

RetailROI, the Retail Orphan Initiative, is a shining example of technology vendors, retailers and analysts working together to raise awareness of the plight of orphans worldwide. More than that, though, RetailROI, provides not only funds but volunteers who are willing to put in “sweat equity” to build schools, computer labs, children’s homes, clean water projects around the world.

Since its founding 5 ½ years ago, RetailROI has helped more than 139,000 orphaned and at-risk children through education, computers, food and medical care. The charity has funded more than 70 projects around the world, with 94% of the funds going directly to charity.

Ketner Group is proud to provide pro bono PR support to RetailROI, and in this week’s blog we’re spotlighting a recent trip to South Africa, where RetailROI provided funding and manpower to set up a computer lab for impoverished kids. A big shout-out to our client 360pi, who along with Intel helped provide the funding for a computer lab that includes 30 tablet computers and a server.

RetailROI volunteer John Orr, SVP of Retail for Ceridian, led the RetailROI trip to South Africa with charity partner LUO, which provides education and after-school care for young impoverished children in South Africa.  Below is his first-person account (provided courtesy of RetailROI):

How was your trip to South Africa?  

Amazing, joyful, and tearful all in one. Ria, who runs the school, lost her sister years ago when they were car jacked and her sister Korna was shot and killed.  She spent years trying to understand it and find her purpose in life and at the same time wishing she was the one who was killed and not her sister.  She came upon these orphans and kids in need and found it.  My niece Lindsay got involved 8 years ago and has raised monies to build a safe house on the school property and fund other improvements.  That’s how I got involved.

Who also helped and did heavy lifting?

Intel sent a team made up of individuals from all around the world (who had never met) and brought them in to work on this project. It’s fabulous that they overcame many obstacles to set-up the lab and train the teachers; within a week they had the students using the tablets for research, spelling, art and so much more.

What surprised you? 

Photo courtesy of RetailROI

I was floored that these kids, who have so little, had respect for the devices and simply used them as if they have been using them for months.  While they trained the teachers, my son, nephew and I kept over 60 children busy playing (they wore us out every day!)  We then helped support the children in their classes as they needed help with the tablets, and we were certain to praise their successful efforts.

What was the best part of your trip?

When any of those kids smiled they looked so beautiful and had so much to not smile about — they had a special glow about them that touched your heart, brought joy, then made you cry out of love. That was my best part.  I brought my son with me, and Lindsay brought her brother with her.  We not only enjoyed spending that time together, but shared in a very special moment – one we will never forget.  It was very humbling, and I want to go back as soon as I can to experience the true joy of it all and those beautiful children.

Anything else you would like to add? 

What great work RetailROI has done and will continue to do!  When people get involved in any way they can, they’ll experience some amazing things in their life.  Thank you, thank RetailROI, thank these retailers and solution providers, and thank those who take the initial step and don’t ask whether they can do it or not. Sometimes you just buckle up and go, and then when that roller coaster stops, you cannot wait to do it again.  If I can do it, clearly anyone can…we all can!