UMKC grad from Kenya brings opportunity back home through new computer schools

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – He’s spent more than $12,000 of his own money to create a place of learning halfway around the world.

Abraham Rotich once came to the metro to learn, and now, he’s passing it on.

As technology moves forward, it’s not uncommon to find a box of old computer stuff in an office or someone’s home, but the founder of a special program says it can still make magic.

Rotich left a big family back in Mosoriot, his hometown in Kenya.

Abraham Rotich

“For me, it was a desire for better education," he said. "I am number seven of eight kids in the family. Most of my siblings are all back home.”

The 29-year-old studied electrical and computer engineering and earned a degree from UMKC.

“That is the trend. That's where the world is going," he said. "Because my focus is more with young people, I feel like they need to be more knowledgeable on computing."

Now, he works in the computer industry, something very foreign back home.

“Most of the kids back home, we don't get to experience the use of a computer until right after high school. Most institutions don't have computers," Rotich said.

Rotich knew he couldn’t come here, achieve the American dream and keep it to himself. Not only does he support his family in Africa, he’s forming a new family of sorts.

“We have about 409 young people going through the program since the inception,” Rotich said of the AfriTech Innovation Center.

It's a program he built by bringing computers back home.

Ragged, makeshift classrooms are now lined with rows of old Dell monitors and computers. They’re teaching very basic skills to recent high school graduates, and there are even some students who are a little more seasoned.

Rotich wants to teach more than just how to type or search the web. His vision is to enable his neighbors to put their own ideas into action.

“Finding solutions to local problems, that's where my forecast is," he said. "We have local challenges. How can we find solutions to those?”

Rotich said it’s about taking the American dream beyond the border.

“I can tell you majority of young people especially in Africa would like to come to the United States, and many of them don't get that opportunity to come here. Since most of them can't come here, I want to bring a small America to them," he said.

More information about Rotich's program can be found here, and donations to the program can be made here.

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