Originally from Sierra Leone, where he witnessed the civil war (1991-2002), David Moinina Sengeh is a man of multiple talents. President of a global charity, he is also the creator of a textile and rapper company. And as if that were not enough, the young man also runs a PhD at MIT, where he uses MRI and 3D printing to develop the next generation of prosthetic sockets.
I was born in 1987 in Bo Town. The war broke out in 1991 and ended in 2002. But I do not want to define my childhood by war.
I started working on this topic when I joined the Children’s Forum Network, which aims to help younger people, especially those who are victims of armed conflict. My motto is to give more chances to the children, so that they do not feel guilty and become aware of their status as victims. That is why we have been working on a children’s version of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
At the end of the war, I was interested in the problem of amputees. They received prostheses but did not use them. People have argued that it was to be able to beg. But by talking to them, I quickly realized that they simply could not use it. They were poorly designed and uncomfortable. This was not just about Sierra Leone. Everywhere amputees have the same problem.
You then developed a new generation of prostheses …
We design specific prostheses for each amputee. And since their morphology evolves, our prostheses must also adapt in time. We have therefore concentrated our efforts to create a socket system that is as flexible and comfortable as possible.
You are at the head of an international association called GMin (Global Minimum). What is it?
In Sierra Leone, Kenya and South Africa, thousands of young people gather as a team, submit ideas and receive feedback on their projects. Among the most talented, some are invited to attend internships for decision makers and innovators. Currently, the internship takes place in Kenya. They can receive training, advice on their ideas, courses on how to manage a team – everything you learn in a place like MIT. Some trainees then move on to global platforms. We have channels for sending in the United World Colleges or at Google. Many came to MIT.
Interview by Simon Worrall
Source: National Geographic