On paper, it would be easy to write off Guled Adan Abdi’s future and miss the latent potential: he’s a thirteen-year-old living in war-torn Somalia and currently learning at the grade level of eight year-old due to missing out on years of formal schooling, family tragedy and upheaval. But this whiz kid is making a name for himself and creating a promising future by upcycling trash to make electronic toys. Abdi, who wants to produce actual cars some day, began by creating plastic toys from discarded bits of trash like old cooking oil containers. According to his mother, a widow who has struggled to provide for herself and her children, assembling plastic items was a way to keep Abdi safely occupied at home while she worked. More recently, Abdi began studying details about cars and trucks and how they work, eventually adding batteries to his inventions to introduce motion. According to the BBC, Abdi has made “four electronic toys, including a truck and a plane, mainly using plastic from old cooking oil containers… [and] he has also invented a fan that can be used as a light at night. Now a sort of local celebrity, Abdi spends his time after school creating airplanes, fans, trucks, and cars while admirers watch and encourage him. Happily, Abdi’s accomplishments have caught the eye of regional authorities, who have promised to fund his education. Meanwhile, the resourceful teen hopes to continue building and eventually sell his inventions.
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