WiRED Provides Real Hope and Genuine Promise for Orphans in Kenya
John, Paul, Triza, Joseph, Susan, Francis and Benard are orphans who spend their days in Kiambu, a massive slum on the
outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. They lost their parents to the AIDS epidemic. Losing hope and lacking skills in a country
suffering from high unemployment and a rising level of poverty, they were eager to learn new skills that would help them
create a secure future.
WiRED provided that opportunity in March when it teamed with Global Strategies for HIV Prevention to provide these young
people with access to a resource that is becoming a necessity to economic, political and social life everywhere in the world.
The computer education and skill development will connect these orphans to the outside world and contribute to their
These young people had never before seen a computer, and that created a challenge. In their week-long training session, Dr.
Gary Selnow worked with them in ten-hour sessions on computer and Internet basics. The objective was to determine if WiRED
could take complete novices from zero to sixty in four days -- from no knowledge to the cultivation of skills adequate to
search the Web, use e-mail (with attachments), run a word processor (including text and graphics integration) and handle a
graphics design package. Beyond that, could WiRED teach these young people to train others?
The results were striking. By the end of the week, the students had acquired a remarkable set of computer skills. Soon they
were communicating by e-mail with their new friends in the States and conducting complicated Internet searches. Moreover,
they closed the weeklong training by teaching nearly 200 people attending a health-care workers' conference how to integrate
digital photos into text, how to do a Web search, how to send e-mail. . Recall, these were "kids" who, earlier in the week,
did not understand how moving a mouse correlated with movement of the cursor.
The computers are now housed in a community church so these orphans can train younger children and use their new computer
skills for AIDS education and economic development.
“Usually, I teach teachers, so this was a nice opportunity to work directly with students. I'd forgotten how enjoyable it
is to see the light bulbs glow when the students discover their 'power' over the machine. I was touched by the spirits of
these kids, and I believe that I learned more from them than they may have learned from me”, Selnow said.
WiRED’s continued work in Africa will focus on the establishment of WiRED Computer Centers that will provide AIDS education,
health care worker communications and the other information and communication services that will assist local populations.