If you have ever wondered whether young people are important in our communities, then here is the answer – yes, they are. Many young people across the world have the potential to create a significant positive change in their communities. Unfortunately, many of these young people are not given the opportunity to express their ideas, since society perceives them as being inexperienced and too naïve.
An example of a young person who has dared to challenge the status quo is Kelvin Doe, a young man from Sierra Leone. At the age of thirteen, he started creating batteries and generators using materials that he had picked from trash bins. He consequently became the youngest person in history to be invited to the “visiting practitioners” program at MIT, according to CNN.
Kelvin’s work overwhelms everyone who gets a chance to explore his technology. He is a living example of an inspirational and hardworking young African. He has a single-minded focus on achieving his goal of being an engineer, and solving the challenges faced in his community.
One of the first problems that Kelvin identified was the need for lights in his community. Due to the intermittent nature of the electricity from the national grid, his village would have lights once in a week and would remain dark for months.
When he set out to solve this problem, he knew very well that consistency, resilience, and hard work are the key ingredients for success.
In addition to his forays in lighting technology, Kelvin started a radio station in his village. He built this radio station using scraps that had been thrown in the dustbin. When people saw him working on this project, they called him a ‘mad young villager’, a common brand for people seen doing controversial things in this part of the world. Kelvin, however didn’t mind since he was focused on his goal.
Many rural areas in Africa lack electricity and this largely accounts for the slow pace of economic development. The government in many African countries focuses on installing electricity in town yet development comes with electricity. Most businesses work best when there is electricity. For example, in a hospital, instruments like ultrasound scans, microscopes etc. require electricity to function.
Doe invented the radio station in his village so that people could get a way to express their views about the conditions in their village. To provide them firsthand information, entertainment and to also provide a platform for those talented in dancing, singing and debate.
In Kelvin’s village, people call him DJ Focus because he believes that if one focuses, they can achieve anything. He did not invent the radio and electricity on a single day or on only one attempt. He kept on trying several attempts before he finally had a working prototype for the battery –a combination of soda, acid, and metal, wrapped together with a tape.
Due to his tremendous work, Kelvin was invited to attend the Innovate Salone, an entrepreneurship showcase that was being run by an MIT doctoral student called David Sengh. During the showcase, Kelvin’s skills stood out and attracted Sengh’s attention. Through Sengh’s support, Kelvin had the opportunity to travel to New York, MIT, and Harvard where he met and learned from many different people.
We learn many things from Kelvin Doe as he turned the impossibilities into possibilities. He used the available wasted resources to create a radio and electric lighting. That is the ultimate goal every young African should aim at in order to better our continent.