Education

How school girls are coding Kenya’s future

In the absence of a national organ donor network, a handful of Kenya school girls and their teacher created an organ donor app 

In 2014 Caroline Wambui lost her uncle after he suffered kidney failure and no one in the family was a good match to help him with a kidney donation. In her home country of Kenya, there is no country-wide or official organ donor programme. In fact, organ donation is taboo, and heavily regulated. Moreover, the black market organ trade is flourishing, especially in poor areas like the Mukuru kwa Njenga neighbourhood of Nairobi, Kenya, where Wambui says many of her neighbours have been approached to sell their organs to illegal traders running back-street clinics.

Without the means to link legitimate donors to needy patients, through hospitals on a national network, people like Wambui’s uncle are dying unnecessarily – not from incurable illnesses, but because of low organ supply, and inefficiencies and administration failures in the health network.

But an unlikely meeting of minds and new skills may be the key to changing this…

A remarkable teacher

In 2012, Wambui’s teacher Damaris Mutati started introducing technology into her classes at Embakasi Girls Secondary School, having participated in the Intel® Teach program. In 2015, she received additional training through the Intel® She Will Connect Program, established in her area through a partnership between Intel and an NGO called Global Peace Foundation. It was here that Mutati received training on sharing her new digital literacy and skills, using the Intel® Learn Easy Steps curriculum, and she began to teach coding to the girls in her classes.

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NAIROBI, KENYA – NOVEMBER 6 : DAMARIS, CAROLINE, AND SEVERAL STUDENTS WORKING

This was then boosted when Intel staff volunteered their time to teach a coding workshop at the school, introducing the pupils to Intel XDK, a unified development environment that enables users to design, create, test and deploy HTML5 apps.

“The world is very competitive, and thus as a teacher, it is important to prepare your learners adequately for competition,” said Mutati. “By embracing technology, I am able to give them a level playing ground.”

An app to save lives

With her new found Intel XDK skills, Wambui had the idea of developing an inclusive doctor-donor-recipient portal, to shorten wait times for organs and ultimately save lives. She roped in some friends to help, and together they produced the app – that is now being piloted and tested by a number of hospitals in Kenya.

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NAIROBI, KENYA – NOVEMBER 6 : SEVERAL STUDENTS HAVING FUN OUTSIDE OF THEIR CL

“None of us knew how to code, but Intel XDK was super easy to learn and use,” said Wambui. “A lot of things have changed for me since being introduced to coding. I now think of coding as a possible way to help solve most everyday problems.”

“We’re changing Kenya, giving patients and their families another chance at life because everyone deserves that. Without Intel’s help none of this would have happened,” she added.

Watch Caroline’s inspirational story here:

 

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