I Could Not Press the Computer Keyboard Buttons

Folks, I’ve been doing some monetary support for the computer center at Mfangano Island, and have recently received a few updates from people who have been using the center. I wanted to share their stories with you. Here’s Eric’s story:

It was in June 7th, 2010 that I first joined Ekialo Kiona Center. Though I had been living on Mfangano Island for a long time, I had never used nor handled a computer before. When I heard that becoming an EK member would give me the opportunity to learn and use computers, I got excited and joined the club. All people who join the free community cyber-cafe (with onsite Voluntary HIV counseling and testing) through biannual HIV testing receive free unlimited access to the Internet. Even though I had never known my HIV status before and feared the process (and of course knowing my status) I decided to go through the process, just to get chance to touch a computer.

It was not easy for me in the IT room! Just touching the keyboard was so strange to me. In fact I believed that the ‘Wazungus’ (white people) were the people who knew and can handle these gadgets. At first I feared I could damage the computer so I did not want touch it. But anyway, I got the opportunity that I could not leave to pass. It took me only three months to know everything about the computer: handling the keyboard, writing, accessing information, and using the internet, among others.

I can remember an incident when I received my first email message from my friend Graham Tattersall, who I had met some years back. I yelled so loud that it made a lot of noise in the IT room and I had to be sent out for more than thirty minutes before being allowed in again. I didn’t believe I could get a mail from that far. It is marvelous; technology has changed my life and the lives of many people like on Mfangano Island.

That is the power of technology through EK Center on Mfangano Island and its environment. Thanks to those who have made this a reality.

Eric Omondi


Eric Omondi is a youth and is currently a volunteer in the EK FM Youth Radio, a project under EK Center




Startups, marriage, and other things I did after 35

Hey, I’m on Quora and I noticed that someone asked:

What do people in Silicon Valley plan to do once they hit 35 and are officially over the hill?

Since life in Silicon Valley ends at 35 unless you hit it big or move up in management (and simple logic tells you that most won’t), I’m curious what people younger than this think they’ll be doing at that age.

Well, I started craigslist when I was 42… Folks seemed to really like my answer, or were just surprised by it. To my surprise, the response has received 82K views, 3,200 upvotes, and counting.


On that note, I decided to write something regarding the onset of my sunset years…

  • I started craigslist in the last blush of my youth. Experience counts folks. I learned a lot in my other roles in other jobs and I brought that with me to craigslist.
  • My involvement in craigslist management ended well over ten years ago. I gave up any management role, but I’m committed to customer service. I do enough real customer service to maintain my emotional investment in the CL and grassroots community.
  • Every day customer service reminds me that we help millions of people put food on the table.
  • I did some work with nonprofits before 35, but didn’t formalize it until I began craigconnects in 2011.
  • Things are starting to not work, as in, my body just isn’t as young as I want it to be; am I right, guys?*

*Note: when I say “guys” I almost always mean “people”, but in this case I mean “male humans of a certain age.”

  • I’ve really accepted what I am, a nerd, modified by customer service.
  • Somehow I’m still surprised, people are asking questions about what they could easily look up.
  • …well, some of us waited til after 35 to get married.


There’s room in Cyberspace for us all

Hey folks, I recently donated some web gear to The Women’s Building in San Francisco to help out with their free computer lab. Not everyone has the means to use technology, and I think that it’s important that it’s as accessible as possible. Here’s what Tatjana, Development Director of The Women’s Building, had to say about it:

There’s room in Cyberspace for us all

Even the US government thinks it’s important that ALL Americans, regardless of class, should have computer and internet access (“FCC plans cheap Internet service and computers to connect poor Americans”).

At The Women’s Building, our free community computer lab has been open for years. Most of our visitors are low-income, and sometimes homeless. Every day people, mostly women, come in to use the computers; often to search for jobs and other community resources, as well as for entertainment and to connect with others… pretty much what everyone seems to use computers for.

We have learned that ACCESS to computers isn’t the only barrier: Some of the women who come in don’t even know HOW to use a computer. The Women’s Building helps these people by offering free computer classes and one-on-one assistance; i.e. how to use a mouse, how to set up an email account, and how to surf the web. In today’s world, even house-cleaning, baby-sitting, and kitchen staff jobs are posted online and people have to contact employers through email.

We realize that numerous women who use our computer lab may have many different issues that they are grappling with, so we also offer information and resources on issues like domestic violence, legal and housing, and just sympathetic support so that the women don’t get discouraged.

We are grateful for Craig’s vision that cyberspace is for everyone. Recently, he helped us make some great updates and now our computer lab is an even better place for the community. We were able to get:
• Three new computers
• Two web cameras
• A projector and screen for our computer classes
• Faster internet speed from 3.2 MBps to 14-15 MBps (Yay!)
• An upgrade of all computers to Windows 7/Office 10
• Head-phones with microphones

Once the lab was updated, one of our computer users told me, “The new computers are great and I’ve really noticed the faster internet connection. I like coming to this lab and I can keep in touch with people and even meet new people around the world. Thank you for what you do here. It’s helped me so much.”

For more info about The Women’s Building, visit us at: http://www.womensbuilding.org.

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