Douglas Mwangi is one man Kenyans are really proud of. At such a young age, he is about to shock the world with his moves.
Douglas will be the first Kenyan to receive the prestigious Queen’s Young Leader Award come June 2018. In an interview with Adelle and Shaffie on Breakfast with the Stars, Douglas explained how he came about winning this golden opportunity.
“It has been a back and forth process chatting with the Queen’s leader team and I didn’t expect to win it, so I got a call that was like a 15 minutes call. I actually thought it was a regret call at the end, but they dropped the mic and said Douglas you have won the Queen’s Youth Leader Award. I was so excited, shouted everywhere. I’ve never been that emotional in my life, I just felt honoured.”
But before this opportunity came along, Douglas has had his very own fair share of struggles. Coming from Mathare, he had a tough journey growing up to a point it took him years to complete school.
“Growing up in the slums is not easy, very limited resources and I can remember vividly, I was in class 7, I spent almost a term home just because I didn’t have a Math text book. The school was collecting books. After clearing Primary School, there was nothing much to do and my mother couldn’t afford to take me to High School. It happened that I started hanging out with this gang around and life wasn’t easy and I almost lost my life and that’s when I realized that I needed to change my life and then learned how to shave hair at 14 years and I secured employment in one of the barber shops in Mathare. Then I realized that this was not the life I want to live. I used to make a thousand bob a month so I started saving and I went back to school in 2004. It was on and off, so I finished in 2010. I spent like six years in High School. I even did construction work.”
They say there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Douglas worked tirelessly to make sure that the people of Mathare are educated and can learn a few skills here and there. So he decided to start and organization, Oasis Community Center, which is a digital community hub for youth and children in Mathare.
So what is the Oasis Center about?
“It’s a youth organization and we seek to empower marginalized community from Mathare with ICT skills, entrepreneurship skills, we also have a community library and we have a kid’s corner where kids can play with toys but the main aim for the kids corner is to encourage them to use technology at an early age and then they can also read. That’s basically what we do at Oasis Mathare.”
When asked how he managed to start it, he explained, “I started while I was working with DOT. Joining Dot gave me a very nice platform to work with the youths in Mathare so I was deployed to Mathare slums to train them some entrepreneurship and ICT skills and I have always wanted to do something for the community but I didnt know how and I didn’t have the resources. So I knew once I got the resources I’ll do it coz I had the plan but I didn’t know how to start. So I met this group while I was teaching them. There’s this guy called Jimmy who started a business with nothing, so I realized that you don’t need to have cash to start something. Late 2013, with my laptop and friends, we thought we should start something and in 2014 we had our first space along Juja Road, then moved from the place because the private developer came in and took that place. And that’s how it started.”
Listen to his full story below;