Nelly Cheboi has been named the 2022 CNN hero of the year for her efforts to provide computer education to rural school children in Kenya through the non-profit organization TechLit Africa.
Cheboi grew up in extreme poverty in rural Kenya. “I’ve never forgotten what it was like to feel the tightness of hunger in my stomach at night,” she told CNN on Sunday, even though her mother “worked so hard to raise her.”
Online voters chose Cheboi as the best personality among the 10 champions.
With a full scholarship to Augustana College in Illinois, she “fell in love” with computer science and knew she had found her career.
But it wasn’t until she started working in the software industry that she realized that companies throw away computers when it’s time to upgrade them.
She said she knew there were children in Kenya who had no idea what a computer was and that’s how TechLit Africa was born.
TechLit Africa currently serves 10 schools and Cheboi hopes to be in 100 more within a year.
Students attend daily courses in various computer skills, including programming, and also have the opportunity to take distance learning courses. “You can go from distance learning to education to music production,” Cheboi said.
“I hope that by the time the TechLit guys graduate high school, they’ll get an online job because they know how to code, they know how to do graphic design, and they know how to do marketing,” he said Cheboi, adding that “The world opens up to you if you are polite.”