The Merge 3: Recap 2021
We are back from Kenya. It was a successful trip!
Why Are We Building Computer Labs Again?
Back in 2019, our goal was to set up 10 computer labs. When Tyler and I were working as software engineers in Chicago, we were uneasy about all the computers going to waste after being upgraded. I knew that back in my hometown, any one of those computers could be life changing.
We started TechLit Africa because we believe that redistributing technology is an effective solution to poverty. Our theory of change is that by enabling youth to join the digital economy, entire communities will lift themselves out of poverty.
We learned from our first trip that working with kids is the path of least resistance. Primary schools in Kenya had facilities to host computer classes, and kids were very eager to learn digital skills. We knew we had a recipe for success this time. When Covid restrictions were lifted this year, we got to work.
This year, we built 10 computer labs!
Every school day in Kenya, there are over a thousand children learning digital skills in our classes. An educator of ours comes to their classroom and guides them to the computer lab, where they sit at their own keyboard and log into our offline curriculum. Kids in our classes play games, learn basics like touch-typing and create digital assets like images, audio and 3D models. Some kids are even coding with Scratch!
Before our program, many of these kids had never seen a TV screen, let alone used a keyboard. Not only is this a life-changing experience, it's truly an introduction to the most powerful tool for fighting poverty. In a few years, these students could be tapping into the digital economy straight from the village.
Looking back on our trip, everything happened really fast, but it didn’t seem that way when we were on the ground. We were crushed! Between hiring, onboarding schools, updating computers and maintaining our social media accounts, it was tough to get an hour of downtime. We made it out the other side with a completely separate organization, TechLit Kenya, with 20 full-time teachers. Yes, twenty!
The music video says it all. And we can never get enough of it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwRspsAL3fs
We can set up 100 more schools next year.
We like ambitious goals, so we want to grow ten times as much in 2022. Expanding from 10 to over 100 schools won't be easy, but just think of the impact we could have. Expanding to 100 more schools would empower another 40,000 children in Kenya from next year on.
We still have plenty to figure out, but we've made so much progress this year.
Thank you for all your support. We'll be in touch.
Happy Holidays, 💃
About The Author
Nelly Cheboi is a celebrated social entrepreneur, Forbes 30 under 30 honoree, and CNN Hero. After growing up in rural Kenya and lifting her family out of poverty, she focused on her community.