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Nelly Cheboi

Founder, TechLit Africa | Full Stack Engineer, Kodable

I grew up in rural Kenya, Mogotio. The situation here was dire. Circumstances forced me to raise my younger sister when I was just nine years old. I would go to garbage pits and scavenge for food. I hated my reality growing up. Through hard work, determination and a lot of luck, I landed a full scholarship to Augustana College, IL in 2012. Coming to the United States and studying computer science changed my life. While an undergrad, I saved 80% of income from my various campus jobs and invested it in my community back in Kenya. Education and digital technology seemed like the most important contribution I could make and I was determined to make it happen. I built a school there, Zawadi, and later started TechLit Africa.

TechLit Africa is a non-profit American organization that redistributes surplus/recycled technology from the developed world to build computer labs in African schools. My co-founder and I are creating an Africa where every child is able to access and leverage modern tools to learn and reinvent their world. Incidentally, we have just returned from a five-month trip in Kenya hosting computer labs in Mogotio. While there, we had the joy and the privilege of teaching over 1000 kids. Most of them would have most likely never seen a computer their whole life. I myself first used one when I was eighteen. We also just shipped 200 workstations this past week for our next 10 computer labs.

From its inception, Zawadi now has morphed into a community center for the village of Mogotio. My dream is to be able to provide all the required resources a typical school would have to help these children learn and become productive adults in their community. Unfortunately, much of the government funding does not extend to millions of children in remote areas across Africa, so their growth and development is often forgotten. We have also started to explore ways to leverage the facility outside of school hours as a place for community development. One concept we are exploring is to host trade training and literacy classes for adults in the village who never had the opportunity to go to school. We have accommodated this in our current expansion of Zawadi.

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