Starting the journey in 2018 and later after three (3) years of preparation, the professional IEEE Photonics Society Kenya Chapter was finally petitioned, approved, and formed in 2021. In addition to the Kenya Chapter, the Society has two Student Branch (SB) chapters in Kenyatta University (KU) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). The Kenya Section has been experiencing tremendous improvement and development where the KU student branch chapter was even recognized as the IEEE Photonics Society Chapter of the Year 2020.

‘A Better Future for Every Child’ being the theme for 2021 world children’s day, Kenya Chapter had the pleasure to celebrate it through the launch of a new library. It couldn’t have been any better! The Chapter organized a social outreach-based launch ceremony under the coordination of members led by Kithinji Muriungi (Kenya Chapter Chair who also serves as the Society’s Global Strategy Representative in Africa under Globalization & Young Professionals Advisory committees) and Student Volunteers Team, on 20th November 2021. The main agenda of the event was to launch the Kenya Chapter and also facilitate the setup of a community library in the Mti Moja Muslim area in Kawangware (Nairobi, Kenya). This event was organized in collaboration with IEEE Kenya Section, Taifa Teule Network,
Maktaba Yetu, Bestilaya, and Maisha Yangu Organization. In attendance was Eng. Paul Kanja, Advisor—KU SB Chapter.

The Kenya Chapter donated 4 complete desktop computers to the library to enable the children to have access to e-learning materials as well as equip the library users (mostly kids and youths) with digital literacy skills. A well-versed team of volunteers set up the computers in the library. This brought smiles to the children’s faces as they would now be able to access the internet to do research, connect, collaborate, learnand even play games.

Over 1000 books were shelved for this event. Nothing beats the joy of providing access to knowledge to the younger
generation. IEEE Kenya Section also played a vital role by facilitating transport logistics, snacks, and the ceremony cake
for the entire team and the children too. On the other hand, Bestilaya provided free access to its resourceful platform.

It is of importance to enable access to a conducive environment and academic resources to the young ones. This is especially when they lack these both at school and at home. All was enabled through the Watoto Wasome Project (Let Kids Learn) to benefit children in the area, enrolled members in the Maisha Yangu Organization, and the general public. The Kenya Chapter hopes to keep its members engaged and also impact the community through initiatives that are transformative and impactful.

Revisiting the center after one month of launch, we were amazed to realize that the center now has a total of 6 desktop computers plus a 10MB/s fast internet connection link. Additionally, the center can accommodate 40 additional students from the under-served community who want to learn computer literacy skills. The center is hoping to have at least 20 computers to fulfill high growth numbers of children in the area who are interested in attending the sessions and also studying in the library.

In addition to general computer literacy, IEEE Volunteers and other community leaders are planning to conduct innovations and technology-based sessions on a regular basis. These trainings are aimed to equip youths, especially those who have completed secondary school with computer digital skills such as online work, computer programming, design, and other technical computer-related skills which can equip them with necessary skills for employability purposes. The center leads are also looking into expanding the center by relocating it to another location with bigger space to accommodate more growing numbers of interested kids to attend the center. This is the biggest challenge since the center is run by individuals who are privately taking charge of most bills in the center.

Special thanks to the partnering organizations, Maisha Yangu Organization Volunteers (Buken Onyango, Merlin Ndolo, Joyce Achieng, Fred Okello, and Emmanuel Misyati), Kenya Section volunteers (Fiona Mugambi, Esborn Orina, Mukami Njeri, Mercy Ngulat), IPS Volunteers (Allan Koech, Sera Maina, Paul Kanja, and Kithinji Muriungi), all other participants, and volunteers for their efforts and dedication in making the chapter launch and the library set up a success!