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Sierra Leone News: Financial gulf between robotic team and dream

In room 300 on the fourth floor of Leone Building on Wilberforce Street, sits the future of Sierra Leone robotic engineering. The room is full of teenagers and young people glued to computer monitors fiddling with their keyboards with exhilarating concentration.
Amongst these geeks, is the team of five that represented Sierra Leone in the just concluded 2017 First Global Robotics Challenge in Washington DC.
However, the ambition to become Sierra Leone’s next Captain William Henry Richards – the father of robotics – would be nothing but a fleeting illusion if their financial needs are not met on time.
Two of the team from Washington have received scholarship offers at the African Leadership University in Kigali, which is a new university grooming African leaders. The students would pursue computer science and engineering in the robotics field.
Saati explained that the two members admitted to the university in Kigali were chosen because of their passion and skills in changing the narrative of Africa.
The other two teammates would go to San Francisco. However, “the San Francisco scholarship has not been confirmed…” explained the team leader, Vandy Amos Saati. The two who want to go to San Francisco were scouted at the robotics challenge in Washington.
Unfortunately, the scholarships do not cover travel costs. They are now struggling to raise the money before the scholarship expires and their dreams sent to the wastebasket.
Brian Sankoh, a member of the team that went to the Global robotics competition, said he joined innovate Sierra Leone in 2015. He explained the scholarship to study in Kigali is a partial scholarship in which the university gave $2,000 USD and we need $4,000 USD to cover other costs. He calls on government and private institutions for support to attain their dream.
Another team member, Samuel Elba, said he wants to study mechanical engineering in San Francisco. He said at the Global competition because of our performance and our stories they decided to give us an opportunity to develop our talent. This is a full funded scholarship but it doesn’t cover our travel cost. So far, we received help from Bishop Abu of Flaming Evangelical Ministries and other members have pledged to support.
By Ophaniel Gooding
Wednesday August 09, 2017.

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