By Joanne Liou, Communications and Impact Specialist
TechWomen is more than a five-week mentorship and exchange program. TechWomen is a turning point. TechWomen is catalyst for social change, a platform for pioneering women in STEM and so much more. During the TechWomen delegation trip to Kenya, February 5-10, Kenyan fellows took the spotlight to share not only how the program has impacted their personal and professional lives, but also how they are paying it forward – how they are capitalizing on their strengths and ingenuity to drive change from the ground up.
Inspired by TechWomen fellows’ commitment to uplift educational opportunities through co-creation with local communities, the TechWomen delegation has pledged to raise $10,000 to co-sponsor a solar-powered computer lab in partnership with Safaricom, as well as support two other fellow-driven initiatives. Read more about the initiatives below, and help support their impact projects.
47-in-1 Project provides solar-powered computer labs for rural schools
Two years after participating in the TechWomen program, Josephine Ndambuki, a 2013 fellow of Nairobi, Kenya, helped launch the 47-in-1 Project with Safaricom. The goal: provide a solar-powered computer lab in a public school in each of the 47 counties in Kenya.
“I had a challenge to give back to the community,” Josephine explained to the TechWomen delegation at the Kamiu Primary School in Embu, Kenya. In order to give schools ownership of the project and to support the sustainability of the labs, each county raises 50% of the total $16,000 required for one lab. The other 50% is provided by donors and a central fundraising committee at Safaricom. “The beauty of this is the fact that it is not one person,” Josephine said. “There are 700 people helping with this initiative. We are integrating ICT into our country.” So far, the project has deployed 18 labs.
In addition to the 47-in-1 Project, the TechWomen delegation is committed to supporting the One Desk One Child initiative, the action plan of the 2016 Kenyan cohorts, as well as Dr. Nancy Cheseto’s World Eagles Club.
One Desk One Child will reduce desk-to-child ratio, 1:10 to 1:3
Team Kenya, one of the five 2016 TechWomen seed grant winners, began work on their action plan, One Desk One Child, in January. The initiative aims to provide desks to two marginalized schools with an average population between 200 to 400 students, reducing the desk-to-child ratio from 1:10 to 1:3 in Kajiado County. They plan to utilize local resources and artisans to build the desks, which will provide job opportunities in the community.
World Eagles Club exposes young students to STEM fields, provides peer counseling
Dr. Nancy, a 2015 fellow and Deputy Director of Enterprise and Innovation at Mount Kenya University, launch The World Eagles Club in July 2016. Her students from Mount Kenya University serve as the club’s volunteers and dedicate hours each week to teach various subjects to students in sixth and seventh grades at Garissa Road Primary School, which resides within one of Kenya’s slums, Kiandutu. “The majority of these kids come from very poor and troubled families. These kids live on less than a dollar per day, and most of them lack basic needs,” Dr. Nancy said. Through the club, the schoolchildren have an opportunity to learn about computers, science, mathematics, English and life skills from university students. Dr. Nancy, a psychologist, sees value in teaching peer-counseling and life skills to prepare the young students psychologically to learn science-based subjects.