“It’s not magical,” Doe says. “You become successful from hard work.”

43. Kelvin Doe


The Philanthropic Prodigy

Sixteen-year-old Kelvin Doe has an endless desire to tinker. When he was just 11, he started collecting discarded metal and electronic scraps, eventually gathering enough bits to put together mini generators. Last year, he cobbled together an amp, a mixer, and enough equipment to launch a one-young-man radio station. He broadcasts to the residents of the Dworzark Farm neighborhood of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s ramshackle capital, where he’s also known as DJ Focus. "I am curious," Doe says simply of his wunderkind accomplishments. That curiosity well explains why his first trip out of his native Sierra Leone was to MIT, where he worked on engineering projects last summer. He’s spoken at TEDxTeen and wowed people in a short documentary about him and his inventions on YouTube. But Doe’s definition of success is unselfish: His current project focuses on building a windmill to provide power for some of his Freetown neighbors, and he hopes to become a scientist to help improve life throughout Sierra Leone. "I love my country," he says. "I love my people."

[Photo by Brian Finke]

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  • Geoffrey Canales

    I am a social work student and i hope to attend Columbia for my P.hd someday. I would hope one day to meet this kid. Kelvin is an inspiration to me he is gifted and i know he will make a difference in the world some day. I feel we need to motivate and give support to young bright people such as kelvin because they are the ones who will help mold the future of our world.

  • Johwell

    My name is Johwell St-Cilien. MY partner Chad Harper and I created an after school program where we celebrate everyday heros and innovators through art.
    Last week Kelvin Doe was our Hero and his story inspired our Kids on so many levels.
    Here is the piece they created in his honor.
    please feel free to give us feed back and we would love to hear back from Kelvin himself.
    peace and much love.

  • Laura B.

    Great video clip & inspiring story! I think after school programs that actively support creativity & critical thinking rather than just policing bad behavior could go a long way in engaging young minds.