From Texas with Love: Kenyan Making a Difference Back Home
When an 18-wheeler truck parked outside his apartment in Coronado, Texas and was quickly loaded with more than 50 desktop computers destined for Kisii and Nyamira counties, many people in the neighbourhood were left asking, who is this man Nyangeya Bwomanga?
â€œIâ€™m telling them that Iâ€™m just a humble Kenyan who is blessed to live in the US, a country full of opportunities to make a difference not just in ones life but also in the lives of others. Iâ€™ve therefore committed myself to equipping my rural home schools with computers.â€ says Job Nyangeya Bwomanga.
Last Sunday, Mr Nyangenya held a small ceremony at his home where scores of his close friends and relatives prayed for the safe shipping of the computers to Kenya. Among the invited guests who spoke at the event were community leaders like â€˜ambassadorâ€™ Walter Omwenga, the Abagusii Global radio CEO and Founder Orina Ontiri, Pr. Ayonga and Pastor Mwebi of Metro Community Church Arlington.
Others were the President of Kenya Youths Abroad Dominic Mangere, his deputy Evans Nyakundi and engineer James Ongera from Austin Texas. There was also Gatoyi Amchani from MN, Former KYA presidents Felix Nyangate and Bosco Charles Nyambuka who was acted as the Master of Ceremonies.
But with poverty stalking most rural areas in Kenya and reports that people can barely scrape a meal a day, why computers, which could be classified as a luxury in Kenya?
â€œI believe education and modern day technology are the only weapons to fight against the widespread poverty and the magic of removing the condition of insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals and household communities from fully participating in the social economic and development matters touching on their everyday life,â€ Mr Nyangenya says during an interview.
Born 29 years ago in the larger Kisii County in the current Bomachoge Chache constituency to parents he refers to as â€˜peasant farmersâ€™, Mr Nyangenya says this in more ways than he cares to remember informed the way he looks at poverty.
â€œI always pray for the strength, wisdom and man power to take education and the spirit of enlightenment to my people of all ages at the grass-root level, for this noble idea resonates with the old adage that charity begins at home,â€ he says.
Mr Nyangenya says the idea of computers for schools came during his 2010 visit to Kenya. â€œI met with people in the village at Nyakoiba Primary School and in that meeting we discussed on how we can help our community by coming up with projects that alleviate poverty and make our society self-sufficient. In my address, I proposed that we start two projects: the One Shilling A Day Scholarship and the Community Information and Resource Centre.â€
The one shilling a day was a donation each member of the community was encouraged to give so that they could start to give as scholarship to those pupils who did well academically but who could not raise school fees or tuition.
â€œNot everybody has full participated on this project, but I have been networking with people from home and we have at least managed to give a partial scholarship to 5 pupils so far,â€ says Mr Nyangenya.
The Community Information and Resource Centre is a place people go to read newspapers and any other books. â€œI gave Sh3,000 to start the project off and while in college in the US, I learned about Books for Africa, which is an organization that gives free books to anybody in need. When I had the opportunity to peruse through the books, I realized they are indeed good reference books and a good source of knowledge,â€ says Mr Nyangenya.
The idea of a resource centre picked up and soon he was talking computers.
â€œI spoke to a colleague of mine who is a nurse and she told me if I wrote a proposal, I could be able to get computers at a very cheap price from the county government.â€
He duly wrote the proposal and gave it to the Director of Technology of Howard County. The director promised to give him 30 computers. â€œBut when I went to pick the computers, He handed me 60 of them,â€ Mr Nyangenya says.
The immediate challenge of course was how to get the computers to Kenya. It is easy in America to collect used computers, books or clothes but the enduring challenge has always been the cost of shipping stuff home.
â€œI contacted various shipping companies through Abagusii Global Radio and received different quotes. I settled on the quote of $3000 to have the computers shipped home. My friend and CEO of Abagusii Global Radio, Orina Ontiri together with The Kenya Youths Abroad (KYA), under the able leadership of Dominic Mangerere, helped me organise a get-together to raise the funds for shipping.â€
Mr Nyangenya is thankful for the support he got from the Diaspora community. Some of them were at his home on Sunday to witness the shipping of the computers.
â€œOnce the computers get home all secondary schools in Ibencho division shall get at least five computers. I hope that the students together with the community will benefit from these computers, get basic computer skills and live to understand the clarion call of the jubilee government of a digital generation,â€ Mr Nyangenya says.
His larger dream is to have all secondary schools in the whole of Kisii and Nyamira Counties served with computers in the next six years. â€œIt is doable and I have no shadow of a doubt that with good leadership back at home, all shall be done,â€ he says, adding that the container carrying the computers shall arrive in Kenya by the end of April and he, together with 20 of his friends, will travel to Kenya to receive them.