Nelly Cheboi is CNN’s 2022 Hero of the Year, honored for her efforts in providing computer training for rural Kenya schoolchildren through her non-profit TechLit Africa.
Cheboi grew up in grinding poverty in rural Kenya. “I never forgot what it was like with my stomach churning because of hunger at night,” even though her mother “worked really hard to educate us,” she said on CNN Sunday.
Online voters selected Cheboi as the top winner from a field of 10 heroes.
On a full scholarship at Augustana College in Illinois, she “fell in love” with computer science and knew she had found her career path.
It wasn’t until she began working in the software industry, however, that she realized that companies just throw away computers when it’s time for an update.
She said she knew there were children in Kenya who had no idea what a computer was and so TechLit Africa was born.
TechLit Africa currently serves 10 schools and Cheboi hopes to be in 100 more within a year.
Her students attend daily classes in a variety of computer skills, including coding, and they also have the opportunity to engage in remote learning. “They can go from doing a remote class with NASA on education to music production,” Cheboi said.
“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,” Cheboi said. “The world is your oyster when you are educated.”