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Wendy Reuer, Published September 11 2013

UND professor partners with Blue Cross Blue Shield of ND to donate computers to Liberia

FARGO – To honor his mother and father who immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1970s, a University of North Dakota professor and his wife are partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota to donate up to 100 computers to Nimba County, Liberia.

The computers will be distributed to schools and at learning centers across Nimba County, which is in central Liberia, a West African country slowly recovering from two long civil wars.

David Yearwood, an industrial technology professor and president of the Jewel and Randolph Yearwood Education Technology Foundation, said the Liberia gift is only the beginning. His foundation hopes to work with the Standing Rock Reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border south of Bismarck and at the Spirit Lake reservation near Devils Lake in the near future. In 2014, he hopes to focus on the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We’re trying to find a way to give back,” Yearwood said.

The computers, which are being refurbished, were donated by BCBSND after the insurance provider completed a systemwide upgrade in August, said Danny Mastre, of BCBS.

Mastre said “thousands” of laptops and desktop computers will be donated to various programs.

Fifty to 100 computers will be given to Nimba County.

Members of the United Nimba Citizens Council of Liberia and Nimba County Gov. Christiana Dagadu are visiting North Dakota this week and will attend the Big Iron farm show at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo.

Dagadu said her county is looking for ways to advance in education, agriculture and technology.

She plans to share North Dakota’s generosity with her president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was elected as the first female leader of Liberia in 2006.

Dagadu and Sirleaf hope to empower young women of their country. She said gifts such as the computers from Yearwood and BCBS will help complete that mission.

“We are like family now,” Dagadu said Wednesday. “We need more assistance so we can do better, be more effective to grow food.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530