Sammamish teen travels to Nairobi to deliver supplies and lessons in technology to children
Photo: Joshua Huston
Christopher Lee believes that technology skills can lift people out of poverty — including orphaned and impoverished kids in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. And he’s traveling there to give them a hand up.
Christopher, a 15-year-old sophomore from Sammamish, has traveled twice to the Hamomi Children’s Centre in Nairobi to deliver clothing, shoes, art supplies and instruction in computer technology.
“Going there really touched my heart,” Christopher says.
His involvement with Hamomi, a Seattle-based charity supporting the school where children receive education, food and health care, began at age 8 when his aunt’s co-worker asked for help collecting donations.
Christopher researched Hamomi and was impressed by the dedication of the Kenyan founder and volunteers working with the kids, and with the American executive director, Susie Marks.
At age 11, Christopher founded a group to collect funds for Hamomi, raising $3,500 through car washes, by running personal errands and from donations. The money bought school uniforms for all 123 Hamomi students, and Christopher collected additional supplies to fill eight 50-pound boxes that his family personally delivered to the center.
While there, he hung out with the children and taught them math, spelling and the Bible. At one point Christopher dropped by a class in which the teacher had left early.
“Each and every one of the students was working hard,” he says. “I don’t know anywhere that the students would keep working when the teacher wasn’t there.”
The kids impressed him at every turn. “I saw them help each other out. There was no bullying. Everyone looked out for each other,” Christopher says.
He returned to Hamomi at 14, and on the second trip, Christopher held a “tech week” for the fourth- to eighth-grade students. He and his dad set up Internet access for the school and Christopher taught lessons on Windows, PowerPoint and using the web. He taught older students some basic programming.
Christopher recently started the Walk That Extra Mile foundation to raise money for Hamomi at his and his friends’ schools. He’s already collected $400 to buy shoes for Hamomi kids by making custom-ordered boxes on a 3-D printer and selling them to his fellow Lakeside School students, and from the sales of a hearing-aid app he wrote.
Christopher is planning a return trip in February to teach more tech classes.
“My main goal is to educate them,” he says, “and help break the cycle of poverty.”