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The Life of an African Teenage Game-Changer!

By February 22, 2016 No Comments


Almost ‘everybody’ in Sierra Leone knows about ‘Kelvin Doe’ now!! He is one teenage national icon – that genius kid- a personification of how the west African country is rebuilding and looking forward!

Kelvin Doe was born in 1996 to a single mother when Sierra Leone was being torn apart by civil war. “Her resilience and self-belief made it possible for me to be alive today,” he once said. He is the youngest of five children, whose creative instincts have been with him as a child.

Doe is a self-taught engineer of astonishing precocity. At the age of 11, he rummaged in dustbins for scrap electronics parts that could fix local problems. At 13 he made his own battery by throwing together acid, soda and metal in a tin cup, waiting for the mixture to dry and wrapping tape around it. This proved a big financial saving on batteries.

Frustrated by lack of a reliable electricity supply in his neighbourhood, Doe built a generator using parts that were home made or rescued from the rubbish. The generator also powered a community radio station that he built from recycled materials at the age of 16. The invention amazed and thrilled his neighbors in Dwarzark.

For that, Kelvin Doe has earned global renown; has been hailed on the global stage by some of the most famous and powerful names and institutions in the world – e.g Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former US President, Bill Clinton.

He plays music under the name DJ Focus and employs his friends as journalists and station managers.

“They call me DJ Focus because I believe if you focus, you can do an invention perfectly,” Doe said in the video on the Thnkr YouTube channel that proved a worldwide hit.

He had never been more than 10 miles from his home in Freetown until he won a national schools innovation competition and was picked for a trip to America, where he spoke at the Meet the Young Makers panel at the World Maker Faire in New York. He’s also been invited to speak at the Google Conference in Tel Aviv, Israel and USAID Powering Agriculture in Washington D.C

Doe became the youngest ever “visiting practitioner” with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) International Development Initiative. He presented his inventions to MIT students, took part in research and lectured to engineering students at Harvard College. Kelvin’s experience captured on a YouTube video has been viewed over 4 million times and continues to inspire other young people in his country and around the world.

He has been featured on CNN and NBC News and was a speaker at TEDxTeen.

His mentor David Sengeh, a PhD student at the MIT media lab, said: “The inspirational effects of the original Thinkr YouTube video have been remarkable. It has had a tremendous impact on Kelvin’s life, on my life and on millions of people all over the world everywhere. In Sierra Leone, other young people suddenly feel they can be like Kelvin.”

Inspired by Kelvin’s remarkable story? You too (or your child) can be an inspirational figure to others!

Don’t miss LEAP’s Easter Holiday Programme, LEAD THE WAY for teenager! The programme is aimed  igniting the fire of curiosity, creativity and community participation in an innovative learning environment. Above all, it teaches your kids the importance of values, and how to develop character. You can read more on

LEAP Africa is a non-profit organisation that is inspiring young boys and girls like Kelvin Doe to add value to their communities. LEAP is creating ways for children to discover their passion—and is uncovering a generation of geniuses in the process.

Sign up for the 2016 Easter Holiday Programme…See flier for details! 

LTW flier