These were the words of one of Sierra Leone’s most admired self thought innovator, Kelvin Doe as he breaks silence in an exclusive interview with AYV from Toronto, Canada where he is currently pursuing Diploma.
He cried out: “As a teen, I have always wanted to live in Africa, but I come from a country where pursuing dreams are almost likely impossible, so I was forced to leave the only place I call home, my family, and friends to start a new life in Toronto, Canada.”
He went on to say: “coming from the slums of Freetown, in one of the poorest countries in the world – Sierra Leone, I hit the world stage with a huge impact. I taught myself some engineering and electronics, and with gritty determination invented and innovated astonishing items to help people with day-to-day life in the slums. This included garbage picking and other survival methods. I built my own batteries, a radio station transmitter, and even a generator”.
With a frustrating voice, the young lad recounted that there was “a media circus, a number of initiatives that in hindsight appear to be somewhat odd, noting that a 16 year old from the slum becoming the CEO of a company and winning a large number of speaking events and ‘awards’ around the globe. There was fame, glory and a buzz of activity, with possibly little thinking about what might be good for me, my education or my future potential to help the poor of Sierra Leone”.
He said since turning 18, he has been rudderless, hustling from one project to the next. From setting up an innovation lab, a tech research company, a company to manufacture things.
“Really? All sounded great at the time, probably with the best of intentions. But all doomed to fail from the start. The hype was amazing and had a mix of myth, reality and confusion. This is not about my past. It is about Kelvin Doe (DJ Focus), 21, trying to get an education that will help me in the long term. If I do not get a solid education, I will always be that novelty act, known as the teen who picked through garbage and wedged things together using duct tape. Not much to build a solid foundation on. No real potential long term. Not a great help to anyone. Just another statistic” the eager-to-learn youngman stated.
He said the plan is to complete his current diploma program in Toronto, Canada, apply and hopefully be accepted in the Management Engineering program at the University of Waterloo to learn about data analytics, analysis, evidence based thinking – things needed in the future if he is to plan, think things through, present cases for funding, support claims, and have successful projects in Sierra Leone.
Unfortunately, he stated, the cost of an education for an international student is roughly 60k CDN a year.
“I did not have the tools to manage whatever opportunities I got well (what teen could/would). I now have a mentoring team here in Canada that is focused on turning off the circus, helping me find myself, managing my finances, turning me into a ‘normal’, professional student and guiding me through this next part of my life. The mentoring team is providing advice, helping me recover..., and some are helping with my schooling costs.”
He added: “For me to deliver on my potential, I believe that I need to be in a program such as the one at Waterloo, have a relatively stress free situation without worrying about the 60k a year, a little something each week for my mum in Sierra Leone who I am worried about and a little bit of funding for my own ‘innovation’ garage where I can continue to innovate and invent appropriate items to help the poor of Sierra Leone. Assuming that I am ‘good enough’ to be accepted by Waterloo or another similar school, (I've received a conditional offer from the University of Ontario Institute, Toronto,) and remains a student in good standing, I am seeking a forward thinking individual or group willing to invest in me and my potential – CDN 70k per year for a four year program.