So much happening now!
The Geek Girls 2015 Festival happens next weekend (April 25) hosted by the fabulous Akirachix and we have 3 really special attendees making the trip from central Kenya, Kiambu county, Kikuyu consitutency. A tiny place called Kamangu where the biggest problems, aside from health and basic water & food supplies, is connectivity. If you're lucky enough to own a reasonable text-only phone and can reach Facebook's basic message platform, your next problem is getting enough airtime, affording airtime (sometimes over food). Your next NEXT problem, the one that eclipses all others, is having enough charge on your old phone to stay in touch.
You know that feeling when you're mid-conversation and your battery dies and you're out, you're nowhere near your car - sheesh - these amazing folks don't have cars!?? But they are learning to code!
We're setting up the first code club in rural Kenya. We're still negotiating but it will either be in an existing internet cafe, or a new one or the local Girls School ... either way it will happen. Heading the campaign is a force to be reckoned with. Irene.
One of the strongest women I know. She's been through more than you'd ever wish on a person and you know that phrase: "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" - she takes it to the next level!
Once the event is over the girls start to learn code. They will go to a local internet cafe, bump the gamers out the booths and log in to Udacity or Coursera or any one of the Ivy League US colleges now offering free online courses in every aspect of coding, from introductions to the basics, to deep machine learning with GPU's.
With just a few shillings these girls can learn to code and teach others to learn to code, or even just to access more vital information.
Irene and her daughter and niece will go to Nairobi next week and mingle will some of Nairobi's tech crowd, and industry experts, bridging the gap between tech and those that REALLY need it most. Tech can literally save lives. Tech can definitely change lives. Tech is enabling progress. But what if there's no electricity?
"Only 19% of the population of Kenya have access to electricity which means 34 million people are living without power. 92% of rural households rely on kerosene for lighting but it is expensive, unhealthy and takes up a huge proportion of family budgets".
Because girls are so good at multitasking the Tekkie Three will also become agents for SolarAid's Sunny Money startup, distributing solar lamps that have the capability to charge phones freely. They'll be eradicating kerosene from their own homes - and the fumes from their lungs - and enabling others to do so too.
All in a days work x
If you'd like to help then a small donation in western currency goes a long long way.
SolarAid's country report gives incredible results that you can help improve even further:
£3 pays for hours of mobile airtime
£10 pays for hours of internet time spent learning to code
£20 pays for a Mobile Sunking
Any contribution will enable others to prosper. Simply click the donate button top left of the website if you can help.
Today the iHub celebrate their 5th Birthday. I wanted to write about this incredible place because many people think of Kenya, even Africa, as just lions, elephants and safaris. Indeed Angelina Jolie will soon be making that a monumental part of what Africa is, when she directs husband Brad Pitt as the revered conservationist Richard Leakey in a script by Forrest Gump’s Eric Roth. But Kenya is so so much more. I've known the country for over 20 years now and have many incredible memories and am proud of being a part of creating so many other people's memories of the area close to where civilisation literally began. Out of Africa is not just an incredible film, it is a theory of the arrival of the human race. Where the first community began.
Skipping approximately 200,000 years brings us to 2010 when, a year after losing my Mother, I was granted the opportunity to visit all the community projects AVIF had been involved in since our inception in 2006. During that time I was able to visit the iHub and meet various people who were already benefiting from it, despite there barely being any chairs or even proper floors!
5 years on and its time to party. Founder Erik Hersman, himself a source of inspiration, writes much more eloquently on what the iHub is and how incredible its growth and impact have been, and continues to be. His article is here. Please read it. Enjoy it. Bringing tech to the forefront is one of Kenya's strength, but that is only possible with the core element of Unity, part of the countries motto of Peace, Love and Unity.
Even if you can't make it to the party, please just realise the power of tech, in anyone's life and join me in Congratulating the entire team and all those involved in the iHub Community. Happy 5TH Birthday!
... it was a dot!!! www206.wixdns.net. DOT!!!!!
Ahhh tech? And life? I lost several days of my life trying to setup CNAME records and A records and waiting for DNS changes to propogate through the networks ...but ... we're all sorted now.
Thank you to Wix and to Easily's support staff. Thank you also to Microsoft and student life for bringing me all the way to my finals before my laptop, still running XP, starts to fail to play nice with Chrome and Inbox. Coughing fits with virtual memory thanks to AVG's superduper antivirus is still causing crashes with Shockwave and ....arrrrggghhh! But.. I'm so lucky. I can upgrade my hardware in time for finishing exams and starting my research project on deep convolutional networks and machine learning.
A long way from my laptop and Yorkshire and studying the ethernet, up in the real clouds, across the planet, are the summits of Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro, watching carefully over Kenya and Tanzania, from the roof of Africa. Back in 2014, someone stole everything from my friend Mumbi, an incredible lady. A woman who grew up in the foothills of Mount Kenya and scrabbled her way up the slopes all by herself to become Kenya's first rated guide. This amazing diva has summited Kilimanjaro over 100 times. She can't actually remember exactly how many times, not to mention the number of technical and trek routes she's led up her own mountain with her brother and team. She has skill, determination and willpower beyond anyone I know, enough even to battle through losing everything.
We're helping her rebuild, alongside, Wix, the brilliant Israeli tech firm, who have donated a free premium upgrade so that we can link a professional domain name to one of their fantastic HTML5 sites, optimized for mobile. The site and domain was also donated and is managed by Easily in UK. I'd like to thank them all for their generosity and assistance in helping to allow tech to rebuild at least one persons life. The pay-forward will be extreme, of course, because summiting a mountain is something no one ever forgets. Hundreds more people can now experience that sheer sense of achievement, beyond any other, in the heart of one of the most naturally epic places in the World. Take a look at the site to learn how.
Erokamano ahinya ("Thank you very much" in Mumbi's Kenyan Luo tongue)
Please visit and pass it on to your friends. WWW.MUMBITREK.COM, maybe one day they'll want to climb a mountain too.
In the lead up to the fabulous star-studded Conservation Tusk Awards we have celebs all over Twitter wearing wristcuffs made by the mamas of Enkiito Village. Thanks to the dynamo that is Robyn Forsythe, one of our volunteers, we may even have a certain Patron of the Awards adorned in jewellery on the night (Tuesday November 25, 2014).
If you'd like one of your own the jewellery is all authentic, made by the women of the village and 100% of proceeds go towards education for their children and support of projects like the current rainwater harvesting storage facility being built right now. Please support us if you can via Enkiito Maasai Jewelery. Ashe Oleng x
Today is another one of those serendipitous days of cross-connections and parallel thinking that Isaac Asimov was talking about way back in 1959.
I'm about to become a trainer for Code Club Pro, bridging the tech-knowledge divide between the UK's fabulous hard-working primary and secondary teachers, and Headteachers, and the UK's enhanced new national curriculum for Computing. Teaching kids to code.
In the meantime, for over 6 years, the San-Francisco based org, World Possible, have put their Cisco-based genius together with the uber-awesome Raspberry Pi crew to produce the innovative and world-changing RACHEL-Pi, an offline server, run on a Raspberry Pi, full of educational content from teaching curriculums, Khan Academy materials, Wikipedia, classic literature, reference material and textbooks; alongside vital community materials like medical and first aid textbooks.
RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspots for Education and Learning) has now been deployed in scores of remote locations around the world – delivering a world of educational content to tens of thousands of students previously far removed from the great online learning tools those of us reading this take for granted almost every day. This Raspberry blogpost details their journey so far.
Particularly exciting is the funding they've found to hire someone in Kenya to help put together the RACHEL SHamba resource (an offline package of farming resources). Boniface Masaviru has been installing RACHEL in Kenyan schools over the last couple weeks (Google map) and we hope to help with distribution, along with Code Club World.
Empowering robotics in Uganda, ensuring that Mayan heritage and language continues in Guatemala and giving every child in the world the chance to learn to code .. thats what the internet was built for!