Picking on charities is just plain rude. Thankfully, that’s not what we’re about. We’re about proving that hackers have amazing skills that can transform charitable organizations. We support the organizations that step into the gap to feed, educate and provide for the world’s most vulnerable citizens. We are virtual, geographically diverse and different. We are Hackers for Charity.First, a bit about our history. Hackers for Charity was founded by Johnny Long, a professional hacker by trade, author by brute force, public speaker, “pirate by birth” and “ninja by training”. He travelled to Uganda in 2007 after his wife Jen was profoundly affected by a mission trip there the year before. During his first two-week trip, Johnny’s eyes were opened to how the “rest of the world lived”. From the Twitter version of the story: “Her pictures. Africans. Orphans. Ridiculous poverty. Filth. Huge smiles. Laughter. Happy kids?!? Happy about what? It ate at me, haunted me.” Johnny found that his (unlikely) skills could literally save lives when he leveraged them for more than personal gain. Realizing that others in the community might be interested in lending their skills to help others in need, Johnny founded Hackers For Charity in 2007 with it’s controversial tagline and T-shirt logo, “I hack charities”. Eventually, Johnny and Jen felt God’s distinct calling to go to Uganda. Johnny walked away from his career and the Longs sold or donated their belongings, left behind their home (which is headed to foreclosure) and with very little spending money, took a leap of faith and relocated to Uganda as a family. Over time, it became clear that they were called to do three distinct things: act as a support organization to non-profits working in Uganda, provide technology and skills training to Ugandans and non-profit staff supporting them, and provide a platform for hackers and technologists to get involved in life-changing work all over the globe. The Long family is still serving in Uganda, funded solely by small donations from individual donors and supporters, and Hackers for Charity continues to grow. You can read the “whole story” about Johnny and the founding of HFC here, as well as the unique “story told through Twitter“.
The ‘Volunteer Network’
We employ volunteer hackers and technologists through our Volunteer Network and engage their skills in short projects designed to help charities that can not afford traditional technical resources. Our industry experts vet all the work to guarantee a high-quality product, and volunteers are rewarded with glowing references from our industry-recognized subject matter experts. With each project, our volunteers move one step closer to that dream job, and a charity is brought one step closer to its technical goals. We’ve designed, built and hosted web sites, set up blogs, programmed custom web applications, conducted code reviews, performed security assessments and more, all through our volunteer’s efforts. We’ve personally witnessed how one person can have a profound impact on the world. By giving of their skills, time and talent our volunteers are profoundly impacting the world, one “hacker” at a time.
..one person can have a profound impact on the world. By giving of their skills, time and talent our volunteers are profoundly impacting the world, one “hacker” at a time.
‘Serving the Servants’
We’re also working on the ground in Uganda, East Africa where our primary goal is one of support. We provide technical support, food, accommodation, training and more to dozens of organizations, supporting them as they in turn support the world’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens. We run a restaurant in Jinja (The Keep) which serves as a hub, allowing us to interact and come alongside a multitude of workers and volunteers assisting them with not only food, coffee, Internet and a safe family-friendly, non-alcohol environment, but also with technical support in the form of computer repair, networking services and more. We live in a home which we have converted into a non-commercial bed and breakfast designed to assist missionaries, adopting couples and others with safe, comfortable and affordable housing as they live, work and serve in Uganda.
We provide food to children in East Africa through our food program. All the profits from sales of Johnny’s No-Tech Hacking book go into this program along with the income from our (now-defunct) Informer subscription program.
[In East Africa], we provide technical support, food, accommodation, training and more to dozens of organizations, supporting them as they in turn support the world’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens.
Technology and Skills Training
Our Computer Training Center has been in operation since 2010 and is run by dedicated team of Ugandan employees, most of whom received technical training through the center. They serve as proctors and instructors and even conduct courses in the field to schools and organizations that can’t afford travel to the center.The CTC is fully funded by the hacker community (at a rate of $1200 per month) and has served hundreds of students (most of whom started with no experience) and have now landed IT-related jobs as a direct result of our training. Other graduates continue their education in highly-selective IT-focussed university courses. We train many students for free, including: non-profits, government or police force staff; HFC employees; and those who can provide a letter of introduction from a non-profit organization. Other students train at a deeply discounted rate designed to encourage training instead of profit. In addition, we have supported many local schools with the addition of computers and training software to allow schools to teach IT, putting their students far ahead of the educational curve. In addition to our technical training program, we also run a leather working program that employs fifteen Ugandans full-time. The program grew from a simple realization that many people needed skills but for various reasons found that IT training was an impractical path. Since many skills training programs (tailoring, bead making, wood working, etc) were saturated we decided to focus on leather work, a practically unknown skill in Uganda. Johnny and Jen taught themselves the basics of the trade and taught what they learned. Now, the craftsmen and women are producing beautiful works of art in a joint process that empowers widows and disadvantaged women in the village and students working in our home “workshop”. Click here to learn more about our leather program and see some of our artists’ work.
The CTC is fully funded by the hacker community (at a rate of $1200 per month) and has served hundreds of students (most of whom started with no experience) and have now landed IT-related jobs as a direct result of our training.
“Can I ask you a personal question?”
On a personal note, we are commonly asked if HFC is a “Christian organization”. Johnny and Jen Long are Christians and in faith followed the call to Uganda. However, we were not called as full-time evangelists, but led very specifically to “serve the servants” here in Uganda, playing what is often a very backstage role. Our calling has been clarified over and over and we now realize how few organizations filled this kind of support role. While there were many organizations serving in Uganda in various ways, no one was directly supporting them. That became our primary role.
The hacker community knows that the Longs are followers of Jesus, and while some disagree … we have proudly worked alongside volunteers of every “religious” (and “non-religious”) affiliation.. [supporting mostly] Christian organizations who are doing unbelievably heart-wrenching work here in Uganda.
HFC operates by Christian ethics and principals, but as members of the hacker community (who constitute the bulk of our volunteer workforce), HFC is not “religious” in it’s affiliation. We understand the diversity of our community and don’t wish to deter volunteers from doing good, whatever their beliefs.The hacker community knows that the Longs are followers of Jesus, and while some disagree with this in principal, we have proudly worked alongside volunteers of every “religious” (and “non-religious”) affiliation. Together we have worked with all manner of non-profit organizations, the bulk of whom are Christian organizations who are doing unbelievably heart-wrenching work here in Uganda. I am proud of these collaborations, and this is just one example of what makes our community special. We can set aside most issues that divide communities and simply work together without much fuss. However, we have paid the price financially. While many organizations we serve have sending organizations, we do not. Big corporations and churches don’t quite know what to “do with” support organizations, and especially not ones that mix it up like we do. However, we cling to Galatians 1:1 each and every day, and although we pay a heavy premium to keep our kids in a missionary school at expat rates and we live hand-to-mouth solely on individual donations, we have a peace that we are in the right place doing exactly the right thing.
|Facebook – Johnny Long (ihackstuff)||Story: Johnny & HFC|
|Twitter – Johnny Long (@ihackstuff)||Johnny’s Books|
|Facebook – Jen Long||Speaking Engagements|