Recycled ink cartridges fund programs in Africa

To trash an empty ink cartridge is to waste a valuable item. These products are intricately made and contain very costly parts. There is another, more productive way to get rid of used ink cartridges.

Dr. Mike Mtika, sociology professor, is Eastern University’s advocate for Tzomma Shoffa, a program that takes used ink cartridges and turns them in for money. The money is then used to fund trips to help third world communities, like in Africa.

“I had developed an interest in Africa, and I was praying that God would give me something to do with it,” senior Christy Acosta said.

“I came to school one day and [Mtika] said that he was planning a trip to go there. I was the first to sign up, and I’ve been involved ever since.”

According to Mtika, Tzomma Shoffa, which is Dutch for “Laboring Together” has raised $4,500 so far since it was started a year and a half ago.

While the program works mainly at Eastern and Fugett Middle School, Mtika said that there are five other schools interested in participating.

According to Mtika, Tzomma Shoffa has three main objectives. The first is to educate local schools about the poverty in Africa and the environmental issues concerning throwing away ink cartridges.

The second main objective is the “actual process of preventing cartridges from going into landfills, where they will take 10,000 years to decompose,” Mtika said.

The third main objective is to get the cartridges into recycling labs, specifically Thoroughbred Technologies Labs. These labs clean, refill, and resell the cartridges.

This process saves companies money and provides compensation for the collectors of the cartridges. Tzomma Shoffa uses the money gained from collecting cartridges for small projects in developing countries.

“It’s a really great organization because it works in little pieces,” Acosta said. “I like the idea of being in an organization that is evolving, never stagnant. The goal is to go from one group that is in poverty to the next. I like that idea of thinking big.”

There are two projects presently underway in the Zowe community in Malawi, Africa. One project is the installation of a grinding and pounding mill to process grain.

“Right now, women have to walk six miles to get [corn and other crops]. With the mill, they won’t have to,” Mtika said.

Mtika said that the initiative will help improve the economic status of the community.

The other project is the construction of an “Under Five” clinic, providing immunization and vaccination for children under the age of five and training for expectant mothers.

Mtika described how the Malawian government will send in health officials to work this clinic.

The clinic will also be dedicated to Christ, and Mtika expects this will lead to a powerful evangelical campaign.

“We’ll show these people that it is out of the love of God that we are helping them,” Mtika said.

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