Salesian programs in Abidjan, the economic capital of the Ivory Coast, have new school, office and bedroom furniture thanks to a recent donation made possible by an ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and the Institution Recycling Network (IRN), an organization that matches surplus items with organizations and people who need them.
The donation by IRN provided new desks, chairs, tables, bookcases and filing cabinets for Salesian-run institutions in Abidjan including a parish, a school, several houses for street children and a youth center called Village Don Bosco. Desks and chairs help to provide a more dignified and organized educational environment for students to complete their studies. As a result, students are often more focused on their classroom work and more prepared for their lessons.
“I frequently go to Village Don Bosco to study and with new individual tables our study conditions will improve,” says Florentin, a 19 year old Salesian student. “We can prepare our lessons in better conditions and this will help us improve our academic performance. We are thankful for this donation.”
The Institution Recycling Network was started in 1999 to match surplus items that need to be recycled with organizations and people who need them. Every educational, commercial and healthcare organization in the U.S. has surplus furniture and equipment. Hundreds of millions of people living in poverty or recovering from natural disasters worldwide are in desperate need of the kinds of surplus goods these very organizations are discarding. IRN makes the match and facilitates the distribution of the surplus into the hands of the organizations and people who need it most.
“There is a clear match between Salesian Missions’ need for furniture and equipment for their worldwide projects and the supplies of surplus to which IRN has access,” says, Mark Lennon, principal of the Institution Recycling Network. “Salesian Missions has been an excellent partner.”
IRN partners with nonprofits who are known to be reputable and effective providers of relief and development assistance and who are able to use the types of surplus that IRN can provide. The organization has a “wish list” from each of its nonprofit partners of the types and quantities of surplus they can use.
When a project comes to IRN, it makes a match against these wish lists and offers the surplus to the most appropriate nonprofits. At this point, surplus is offered on a first-come-first-served basis; the first nonprofit(s) to express interest in the surplus, receives it. In many cases, a single nonprofit will claim the entire project but in some cases, the surplus will be split among two or more organizations.
“There is almost infinite demand in the U.S. and worldwide for good quality surplus so IRN’s surplus program will continue to grow,” says Lennon. “The school or company that supplies the surplus pays IRN for the service of matching their surplus with our nonprofit network. In almost all cases they pay IRN much less than they would pay to bring in dumpsters and throw the surplus away.”