By Abubakarr Sidique Konneh (YES 2013-2014, Sierra Leone, placed by PAX in Plainsboro, NJ)
In a world where proactive individuals refuse to remain idle, Abubakarr Sidique Konneh stands out as an exceptional individual. As an alumnus of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program from Sierra Leone, his journey from the Government Secondary School in Bo, Sierra Leone, to West Windsor Plainsboro High School in New Jersey, USA, not only reshaped his own life but left an indelible mark on his community.
During his academic sojourn in Plainsboro, New Jersey, Abubakarr not only embraced American culture while living with a host family but remained steadfast in his commitment to making a meaningful impact on his homeland. Teaming up with another impassioned youth from Sierra Leone, Dominic Hindolo Saidu, Abubakarr initiated the "Solar Salone" project. This groundbreaking social innovation addresses two pressing issues in Sierra Leone: the lack of reliable electricity in schools due to power shortages and the urgent need to raise public awareness about climate change and renewable energy solutions. The Solar Salone project, spearheaded by Abubakarr and Dominic, aims to provide free, sustainable, and dependable solar panels to schools in Sierra Leone.
Yet, the impact of Solar Salone transcends the mere installation of solar panels. Abubakarr and Dominic recognize that effective climate change mitigation requires educating the next generation. Thus, Solar Salone not only illuminates dark classrooms but also enlightens young minds about climate change and renewable energy sources. Their vision is to inspire students to become change catalysts in their communities, fostering a sustainable and eco-conscious mindset among future leaders. The fruits of their labor did not go unnoticed. Solar Salone earned recognition as one of the recipients of a $1,000 startup funding grant from GoMakeADifference (GoMAD), a UWCx initiative. This acknowledgment underscores the global importance and potential impact of their project, aligning seamlessly with the United World Colleges' commitment to effecting positive change on a worldwide scale.
The dedication displayed by Abubakarr Sidique Konneh and Dominic Hindolo Saidu exemplifies the influential role that young leaders can play in shaping their communities and the world at large. Their journey, spanning from Sierra Leone to the United States and back, serves as a testament to the transformative power of education, exchange programs, and youth-led initiatives. Looking ahead, one can only hope that Abubakarr and Dominic's Solar Salone project continues to flourish, inspiring others to take decisive action against climate change. Their story stands as a beacon of hope, reminding us all that with determination and innovation, we can effectively address the critical challenges of our time and create a brighter, more sustainable world for generations to come.