GW + PHONES = HOPE
GWU Students Collect Cell Phones to Save Lives
Chelsea Clinton and Christy Turlington Burns joined students at George Washington University this week to turn old cell phones into life-saving treasures, through the non-profit organization Medic Mobile’s Hope Phones campaign.
Some 500,000 cell phones are discarded every day in the U.S. alone. Hope Phones collects old mobile phones and sells them to recycling outfits, using the revenue to purchase new phones that Medic Mobile puts into the hands of healthcare workers in 11 countries.
The students at GW set an ambitious goal: to collect 20,000 phones – which will mean new phones can be given to health workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nepal. According to Tierney O’Day of Medic Mobile, the phones from GW could help a half million people.
“The funds from recycled phones will be able to be measured and tracked so the GW students here feel really good about what they did and they know that they really made a difference,” said Clinton, who participated in the rally. The college’s phone rally is the first commitment to action for the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative University (or CGI U), which George Washington University is hosting in March.
Move this up: ”I’m really excited to be here at GW for the first commitment of CGIU 2012,″ Clinton said, suggesting to students that they trick or treat for phones instead of candy on Halloween, to help meet their commitment of 20,000 phones by March.
GW students scoured their drawers for old phones and smart phones, and collected thousands more, canvassing door-to-door in the Washington area. By Tuesday afternoon, five large boxes of phones were jammed to the rim with the donated electronics.
“The average old cell phone will generate two to three phones used in the field,” Medic Mobile’s Tierney O’Dea told ABC News at the rally. “A smartphone can generate ten [new phones].”
In addition to Clinton. the George Washington campaign attracted a celebrity guest speakers Christy Turlington Burns and the United Nations Foundation’s CEO Kathy Calvin.
Turlington Burns, supermodel and founder of Every Mother Counts, has been an advocate for maternal health since she experienced complications during her own pregnancy, and learned that she might have died delivering her baby if she were in the developing world.
“I think everybody, when they learn the statistics around maternal health, they are shocked and horrified, but then they say what can I do?… We all have phones….its so easy for people to recycle what they already have, contribute them, and then its lifesaving for a health worker in a developing country where information and technology make the difference in saving a life,” Turlington Burns told the students.
Every Mother Counts previously collected 15,000 phones for Medic Mobile.
ABC News’ JuJu Chang also spoke, urging the students to support maternal health and childhood health programs around the world by joining the Million Moms Challenge.
“Josh Nesbit, one of the founders of Medic Mobile, was a sophomore in college when he started (Hope Phones),” Chang told the students. “He went to Malawi and he was inspired and he did something, and today you can do something too.”
The GW rally was inspired by ABC News’ Be the Change Initiative, which seeks to raise awareness and foster solutions to global health challenges around the world. For information on hosting a cell phone collection rally at your school or community, contact Hope Phones at Info@HopePhones.org.
For more information on the Hope Phones Campaign and to learn how you can donate your phone to Medic Mobile check out HopePhones.org.