Growing up in a village where poverty was an ever-present shadow, Nelly Cheboi experienced firsthand the challenges that her family and community faced. With a single mother who had limited education and four daughters to support, life was a daily struggle. “She was working really hard, and I was still going to bed hungry. I was still sent home for tuition. I was still living in a house that was flooding,” recalls Cheboi, now 29. The harsh realities of poverty left an indelible mark on her young mind, igniting a burning desire to make a difference.
Nelly’s journey took an unexpected turn when she secured a scholarship to study in the United States. Far from her humble beginnings, she embarked on a path of education and self-discovery. While juggling odd jobs to support her family, she found her passion for computer science. In the midst of her struggles, she recognized the power of computer literacy to unlock opportunities and create a brighter future. This realization laid the foundation for her mission to bridge the technological divide in her home country.
Today, Nelly Cheboi is the driving force behind TechLit Africa, a nonprofit organization that is revolutionizing education in rural Kenya. With a mission to make Africa technologically literate, TechLit Africa refurbishes and repurposes donated computers to establish technology labs in schools. Through her efforts, Cheboi is giving 4,000 children the tools they need to break free from the cycle of poverty.
TechLit Africa, short for Technologically Literate Africa, breathes life into Cheboi’s vision. Recycled computers, once destined for disposal, are now valuable resources that empower students. These technology labs become hubs of learning, where young minds are nurtured and skills are honed. “I know the pain of poverty, and that’s why I feel so passionate about it,” says Cheboi, who splits her time between the United States and Kenya, working as a software engineer.
Cheboi’s journey wasn’t without challenges. From her initial struggles with computers during her college years to her determination to share her knowledge with her community, her perseverance shines through. At the core of TechLit Africa’s curriculum is the skill of touch-typing, a skill Cheboi herself had to master. The organization’s impact goes beyond technical skills, with professionals from various fields inspiring the students to dream big. From music production to coding, young minds are exposed to a world of possibilities.
TechLit Africa’s dedication to sustainability and support is commendable. The organization takes ownership of the computers, ensuring ongoing tech support, software updates, and troubleshooting. The impact doesn’t stop at the classroom; it extends to the future careers of these students.
As TechLit Africa continues to grow, Nelly Cheboi’s vision expands. The organization currently serves 10 schools, with plans to partner with 100 more in the near future. Cheboi’s hope is to see the first batch of TechLit graduates entering the world equipped with essential skills, ready to take on the challenges of the digital age. “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,” she says.
Nelly Cheboi’s journey from a small village in Kenya to the forefront of technological empowerment is a testament to the power of education, determination, and a heart full of compassion. As she paves the way for a brighter future, her story serves as an inspiration to women everywhere, proving that even the most challenging circumstances can be transformed into opportunities for change. Through TechLit Africa, Nelly Cheboi is turning dreams into reality, one computer at a time.