It’s a fact that The Coca-Cola Company has one of the largest and most connected supply chain and distribution networks in the world. But, what you may not know is that Coca-Cola uses its network to deliver more than beverages.
Recently, one of the company’s bottling partners – Coca-Cola Northern New England (CCNNE) – learned about a high school in Vermont that needed some help delivering 40 desktop computers to a school in rural Tanzania.
Northfield Middle High School students wanted to donate computers to a school close to their hearts but far from their hometown. Several students had visited Pommerin Secondary School in 2015 during a summer trip with their local Interact Club chapter, an organization that focuses on global service.
“I was deeply impressed by these wonderful kids—twice as many as our school!—and their hard work and curiosity,” said Mike Macijeski, who teaches history in Northfield. “I determined right away to do what we could to help them.”
While in Tanzania, students worked on several community projects and visited Pommerin Secondary School twice – first to get acquainted, then a week later for a class on globalization. The school made quite an impression on the Northfield students, sparking a desire to continue supporting the school and community and helping Pommerin open its own computer lab.
“When I heard Northfield was about to recycle a lab’s worth of older computers to make way for new ones, I contacted Pommerin Headmaster Shadrack Nyaulingo to ask if he would like them,” said Macijeski. “He was thrilled, and our Interact Club jumped in to support.”
Northfield students raised money to ship the computers to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. The problem? No shipping company could deliver the large load safely to Pommerin from Dar Es Salaam.
But Northfield didn’t give up.
Macijeski recalled enjoying a Coke at a tiny village store while visiting Pommerin, so he contacted CCNNE for help. With more than 250 bottling partners worldwide, Coke’s distribution capabilities – and fleet of trucks – could certainly get the computers to the school. CCNNE helped connect the school to Coca-Cola Kwanza, a bottler in Africa.
“I teach recycling education seminars at Northfield, so we already have a deep connection with the school,” said CCNNE Sustainability Manager Ray Dube. “Coca-Cola’s ability to merge our strong local connections with our vast global network is what makes our system so unique. Our distribution network is helping bring happiness to these schools – all the way from Vermont to Tanzania!”
This summer, the computers began the long journey to Dar Es Salaam. Shortly before Thanksgiving, the computers arrived unscathed to the school. Vince Mwaja, a former Pommerin Secondary School student and friend of Macijeski, volunteered to meet the shipment and ride with the Coca-Cola driver for an entire day to the small town.
“Coca-Cola Kwanza was happy to help deliver the computers as a way to help the community in which we operate,” said Basil Gadzios, managing director of Coca-Cola Kwanza. “The computers will greatly help the children, who are the future generation of Tanzania, improve their knowledge.”
The 40 computers arrived safe and sound along with 1,000 pencils and 750 hats and sunglasses, courtesy of Coca-Cola. The students of Pommerin Secondary School celebrated the arrival as the computers were unloaded from Coke trucks.
“With these computers, the whole world will be brought here to Pommerin,” said Headmaster Shadrack Nyaulingo. “It is truly a dream come to pass and we sincerely thank all who made this possible. We will always cherish this support that has touched our school.”