Nelly Cheboi, Who Quit Her Software Job to Create Tech Labs for Kenyan Schoolkids: TechLit Africa, Cheboi’s non-profit organization, has given thousands of children in rural Kenya access to donated, upcycled computers and the opportunity for a better future.
During the ceremony, Cheboi brought her mother to receive the prize on her behalf.“worked really hard to educate us.”
Cheboi began her acceptance speech by singing a song with her mother, which she later stated had significant value to her as a child.
Having been named CNN’s Hero of the Year, Cheboi will get a monetary award of $100,000 to help her continue her efforts. Along with the other top 10, CNN Heroes honored at Sunday’s event, she will receive $10,000 in cash and, for the first time, extra funding, organizational training, and assistance from The Elevate Prize Foundation thanks to a new partnership between the two organizations.
Furthermore, Nelly has been selected as an Elevate Prize winner, which will provide her organization with a $300,000 grant in addition to further support worth $200,000.
Mogotio is a small community in Kenya, and Cheboi spent his childhood there.“I know the pain of poverty,” remarked Cheboi.“I never forgot what it was like with my stomach churning because of hunger at night.”
Nelly Cheboi, who quit her software job to create tech labs for Kenyan schoolkids with upcycled computers, is CNN's Hero of the Year. #CNNHeroes
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But in her junior year, when Cheboi was a math major, she was compelled to take a programming course, and that was when everything changed.
“When I discovered computer science, I just fell in love with it. I knew that this is something that I wanted to do as my career, and also bring it to my community,” CNN, reported.
However, there was still a significant learning curve for many fundamental computer functions. Cheboi recalls spending six months preparing for a coding interview by practicing touch-typing. Learning how to touch type quickly and accurately is now required of all TechLit majors.
“I feel so accomplished seeing kids that are 7 years old touch-typing, knowing that I just learned how to touch-type less than five years ago,” she said.
Cheboi’s first few months on the job in the software sector opened her eyes to just how many old PCs were being discarded as organizations changed their IT systems.
“We have kids here (in Kenya) — myself included, back in the day — who don’t even know what a computer is,” The words came from her mouth.
In 2018, she began taking laptops back to Kenya from the United States in her own baggage, paying all applicable taxes or customs fees herself.
“At one point, I was bringing 44 computers, and I paid more for the luggage than I did for the air ticket,” she explained.
After she and another software programmer decided to leave their employment and start their own business, she and her partner started TechLit Africa a year later. Corporations, educational institutions, and private citizens can all contribute to the organization by donating computers.
Before being sent to Kenya, the gear undergoes a thorough cleaning and refurbishment. There, it’s disseminated to partner schools in rural communities, where kids as young as four and as old as twelve have access to regular lessons and frequent opportunities to learn from experts, bolstering their education and preparing them for future employment.
“We have people who own a specific skill coming in and are just inspiring the kids (with) music production, video production, coding, personal branding,” A statement from Cheboi. “They can go from doing a remote class with NASA on education to music production.”
As of now, 10 schools are receiving assistance from Cheboi, but that number is expected to grow to 100 during the next academic year.
“My hope is that when the first TechLit kids graduate high school, they’re able to get a job online because they will know how to code, they will know how to do graphic design, they will know how to do marketing,” According to what Cheboi said. “The world is your oyster when you are educated. By bringing the resources, by bringing these skills, we are opening up the world to them.”