How a Kenyan man upcycled his old computer

This CNN Hero upcycles old computers to open new worlds for young Kenyans.

By Shazia Gogoi

In the 1980s, there was a young Kenyan man who wanted to see the great city of Nairobi. But the only way to get there was to take a taxi that cost more than the young man could afford.

With no other options, he decided to make the trip on his own. He took his trusty typewriter, computer and a couple of old keyboards and a 3-inch floppy disk. He then decided to go viral.

Shazia Gogoi was born in Kenya. He graduated with a degree in International Economics from Duke University and then worked for 25 years as a journalist in the U.S.

Then in June 2014, Shazia was working on an article about the need for more social entrepreneurship in the U.S. when he was attacked in the street by two young people. Despite being badly wounded, Shazia continued writing his own story.

After three months of hospitalization, Shazia’s family asked him to take a break. That’s when he decided to upcycle old computers and parts from a computer repair shop in Brooklyn.

The result: A mobile home in the middle of the Kenyan desert that the young Kenyans use for their school day.

The house is called “Tin Can.”

“I was very inspired by what the man did,” says Shazia. “He is a kind of hero for me.”

Shazia’s story wasn’t the only one that was upcycled and sent to the world on Facebook.

When Kenyans first hear of an upcycling project, they are often surprised. Most would think that the “normal” way to upcycle old computer or typewriter parts and appliances is to send them to a recycling center.

But it’s actually a lot cheaper to upcycle old computers than it is to buy a new one.

“It’s a very simple system, and it is very easy to use,” says Mark Van der Wiel, an upcycling expert who is a co-founder of the online business that specializes in upcycling.

Van der Wiel has upcycled more than 60,000 computer parts

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