Communication Technology puts HEART into Social Distancing
Yes, being 9,000 miles apart, means you are definitely socially distanced. But, Audrey Colle, Microsoft Partner Group Engineering Manager, Azure Global, and 1,800 women, in the Global Give Back Circle, never considered distance to be a barrier to helping to change the destiny of an at-risk girl in East Africa.
Before work-from-home became business-as-usual, these mentors have been leveraging communication technology to connect with their mentees on the other side of the globe.
Audrey and Elizabeth come from very different backgrounds. Audrey was born in France, attended university and landed a fulfilling career at Microsoft. Elizabeth was born into extreme poverty, in a marginalized community in Western Kenya, where girls are lucky to make it through primary school before becoming child brides.
Five years ago, when Audrey learned that Elizabeth not only completed primary school, but overcame huge challenges to graduate high school, she knew she could work with a girl with the level of grit and drive she saw evidenced in Elizabeth. The two were socially distanced by 9,000 miles, but managed to connect at a human level almost immediately. As their relationship deepened, the impact of their connection became life-changing on both sides. Audrey and Elizabeth are emotionally connected for life. In their words……
“When I started my mentoring journey with Liz, I had no idea it was going to impact me in such a positive way. Throughout these five years, Liz has humbled me with her dedication to college and family. Despite all the challenges that life threw at her, Liz always stayed committed to her education and never gave up. She just graduated university this year and I am so proud of her. Through our discussions, I started understanding life, and it helped me realize that things we take for granted in life (a working phone, good connections, a speedy laptop) are not the norm everywhere in the world, and that we need to build technology that works for everyone, not just for the latest generation of hardware.” – Audrey Colle
“There was a time when I thought my life had no purpose. I even resorted to brewing alcohol, with my mum, because I could not see a bright future in my path. The day I learned I was admitted to the Global Give Back Circle was one of the happiest days of my life! I was to be given a chance to partake in the 6-month Digital Skills & Entrepreneurship Program and become matched with a mentor who would not only walk with me on my new journey, but also sponsor my college education.
My education journey was not an easy one. I had to repeat my final year of high school three times just to graduate with passing grades. Although I had completed high school, without further education and workforce skills, my future would have been that of brewing alcohol in my rural village and never knowing my true potential in life.
Thanks to my mentor Audrey, I am now a secondary school teacher who graduated university with 2nd Class Honors. Audrey never lets me give up and she always reminds me about how far I have come. I try to pass on her ‘never give up’ coaching to those in my village who feel there is no hope. I share my story of hope and survival and focus on the power of resiliency.
My passion is to help motivated students, who have been raised in poverty, reach their goals and dreams, too. Audrey has shown me how to feed this passion. Whenever I think of how helpful she has been, I cannot control my joy and pride. She has been like a mother, a sister and a true friend. She will always be my source of inspiration.” – Elizabeth Chesang
Mentoring brings out the best in girls. The Global Give Back Circle has set up a platform for long-distance mentoring, which supports the education, mentoring, and economic empowerment of at-risk girls in East Africa. You can make a huge difference in a girl’s life without ever leaving your computer. Consider joining our ‘Mentor Circle’ and giving back as a mentor.