In the northern town of Buhodle, Somalia, a boy with minimal education that hails from a poor family has begun to invent his own toys- and these toys are electronically powered! Introducing Guled Adan Abdi, the 13-year-old Somalian inventor that made international headlines. Young Guled is not your standard teenage boy that plays with toys — he builds them from scratch! This boy has certainly turned heads and warmed the hearts of many after the BBC Somali Service turned the spotlight on this young prodigy.

Guled Adan Abdi is not the most fortunate of children, however. Though he may be blessed with the mind and willpower of an inventor, this boy’s origins are far from a blessing. In 2002, Guled’s father left him and his family and is assumed to be dead. Left to take care of the boy, his brother, and sister, his mother, Maryan Hassan, struggles to put food on the table by selling Anjeera, also known as Somali pancakes. And when Hassan has not made end’s meet, the family must stay with relatives in an isolated area that has no school anywhere near. Regrettably, this has stunted Guled’s progression in education and thus he still remains in the third year of primary school.

No matter how bad circumstances have gotten, Guled’s natural adolescent curiosity has made him take the first step towards a better future for him and his family. Their last year was spent in Buhodle and after school, Guled would always find time to work on his inventions. Despite lacking formal training in building his toys, the young inventor was still able to construct four electronic toys and a fan that has a light in it! According to him, he was able to construct his inventions by first finding out how a car’s tires turned then soon enough, Guled would find himself spending countless hours applying what he knows and assembling his toys.

To make his toys move, Guled installs a battery-powered control box marked with a plus and minus sign on each of his toys. And since his toys are made primarily out of plastic from old cooking oil containers, Guled only has to spend money for the batteries which cost $0.25 a pair. But what drove the boy to start using electronics was his teacher, Asha Ahmed Omar, who urged him to continue learning and gave him his first pair of batteries.

So as our whiz kid garnered reputation for his accomplishments, many people have started to visit the boy to support and watch him build. Though at first Guled’s mother disapproved of the boy’s fascinations, she would soon be won over by her son’s dedication to his inventions and now considers him a genius.

At present, Guled’s future has brightened. Thanks to teacher Asha Ahmed Omar spreading her student’s feat, Guled was asked to travel to Garowe, Somalia’s main town in the Puntland region, to meet with Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali. After presenting his inventions, President Ali promised that the government will start funding Guled’s education.

Another chapter of Buhodle’s whiz kid has just begun. Looking positively at the future, Guled Adan Abdi hopes to learn how to produce real cars.

[Image from Wikimedia]