Nelly Cheboi, the nonprofit TechLit Africa CEO, quitted her Software engineering lucrative job in Chicago in 2019 to build computer labs for children in Kenya, she has been named the 2022 CNN Hero of the Year.
The CNN annual award ceremony is conducted to appreciate people in the community, doing amazing things to make the world a better place, online voters selected her from among this year’s top 10 CNN Heroes.
TechLit Africa, led by Cheboi has provided thousands of students across rural Kenya with access to donated, upcycled computers and an opportunity to a better brighter future.
Cheboi thrived in poverty, living with her mother in Mogotio, a rural township in Kenya.
“I know the pain of poverty, i never forgot what it was like with my stomach churning because of hunger at night.” the 29 year old narrated.
Cheboi earned a full scholarship to Augustana College in Illinois in 2012, from her hard work in school, taking on to her studies with minimal experience with computers, handwriting papers and transcription.
The ice started breaking when Cheboi was required to take a programming course for his mathematics major.
“When I discovered computer science, I just fell in love with it. I knew that this is something that I wanted to do as my career, and also bring it to my community,”
“I feel so accomplished seeing kids that are 7 years old touch-typing, knowing that I just learned how to touch-type less than five years ago,” she told CNN.
While working in the software industry, Cheboi noticed many computers put to waste as the company’s technology infrastructure upgraded overtime, and began transporting donated computers back to Kenya, in her personal luggage, catering for customs fees and taxes herself.
“We have kids here (in Kenya) myself included, (back in the day) who don’t even know what a computer is,”
“At one point, I was bringing 44 computers, and I paid more for the luggage than I did for the air ticket,” she said.
In 2019 Cheboi co-founded TechLit Africa with a fellow software engineer after both quit their jobs.
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TechLit Africa accepts computer donations from companies, universities and individuals.
Cheboi who accepted the award with her mother, said at the beginning of her acceptance speech
“She worked really hard to educate us.”
Cheboi and her mother then sang a special song onstage which she explained had a special meaning when she was growing up.
The 2022 CNN Hero of the Year, Cheboi will receive $100,000 to expand her work. The top 10 CNN Heroes were honored at Sunday’s gala as they all receive a $10,000 cash award.
The organization for the first time, added other grants to the heroes, including Organizational training and support from The Elevate Prize Foundation through a new collaboration with CNN Heroes.
Nelly will also be named an Elevate Prize winner, which comes with a $300,000 grant and additional support worth $200,000 for her nonprofit.
Also Read: President Ruto Confers State Honours to 483 Kenyans.