Former Kenya street boy discusses electronic waste jewelry project

Christopher Aredo, formerly a street-dwelling youth in Kenya, is currently an intern at Penn State Berks from Kenya Methodist University. He will discuss the Electronic Waste Jewelry Project brought to the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre in Kenya as a means of teaching the youth a trade, on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at 1 p.m. in room 121 of the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building. This event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served.

Aredo was formerly a student at the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre (CYEC) in Nyeri, Kenya, which provides residential care and education for former street-dwelling children, who must then transition to independent living. Today, Aredo is a senior with a dual major in Business and Information Technology at Kenya Methodist University.

The collaboration between CYEC and Penn State University began when Dr. Janelle Larson, Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics and Division Head of Engineering, Business, and Computing at Penn State Berks, was contacted by a former classmate, Paul Maina, seeking the University?s expertise to help address a variety issues with the innovative school he established for former street-dwelling children. Larson and others from Penn State Berks, as well as Penn State University, made several trips to Kenya to assist the CYEC beginning in 2009.

Then in May 2011, Penn State Berks students and their professor, Dr. Sadan Kulturel-Konak, traveled to Kenya to visit the CYEC. Their mission was to teach the youth at the center a skill that would help to sustain them in the future.

Electronic waste is a major problem worldwide, including in Kenya where the Dandora Dumpsite in the Nairobi area is home to twenty-five tons of old computers, cell phones, and televisions. The Berks team decided to take this surplus waste and use it as a resource. Their goal was to teach the youth at the CYEC to make electronic jewelry from the precious metals, computer components, wires, and plastics contained in the electronic waste and later sell the jewelry, using the profit for future educational advancements.

The EBC Research Interest Group features Penn State Berks faculty and visiting experts who conduct research on a wide variety of topics. Topics are of broad and general interest and are accessible to the non-expert.

For more information, contact the co-chair for the EBC Research Interest Group, Dr. Jui-Chi Huang, assistant professor of economics, at [email protected].