Raphael Mwachiti: Using technology to advance the community | Aga Khan Academies

Raphael Mwachiti: Using technology to advance the community

When Raphael Mwachiti, a Diploma Programme (DP) student, got admitted to the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa on a fully funded scholarship through the Talent Identification Programme (TID) in 2015, he knew it was a life-changing opportunity.

“I was thrilled and filled with joy that I got to see my parents be proud of me for getting the admission but I also understood that it was now up to me to make use of the resources and support from the Academy to make something of myself,” Raphael says.

After five years at the Academy, he says his experience feels like a great adventure, one he had never thought of undertaking.

“I got to see different perspectives and meet people from different backgrounds,” Raphael says. “I’ve also been able to go to new places like Canada and Tanzania and learn many new things.”

Although he hit many bumps along the road, he says they’ve helped him grow as an individual and have given him a glimpse of the world to better prepare him to be an active member of his community.

Raphael has not only had outstanding achievements in the classroom but has applied what he’s learnt to effect change outside the classroom. He has embraced the ethos of the Academy by striving to improve the lives of others.

In 2019 he won the Ryerson Sandbox Basecamp prize for his innovation to aid the visually impaired. He was awarded a grant of $5,000 CAD and specialist professional advice to help advance his start-up. He is now working to produce these devices for further testing with the hope of impacting more than 250,000 visually impaired persons in Kenya. 

Additionally, Raphael helps farmers in his rural home of Kinango learn new farming techniques like greenhouse irrigation and composting, which are now being utilised to help increase harvest in all seasons thus increasing sustainability within the community. He also teaches computer skills to kids in his old school, which has evoked an interest in technology within them.

"I first met Raphael when we were doing the Talent Identification testing in October 2014,” says Dean of Admissions Paul Davis. “We sat outside one of the classrooms at St. Joseph's Primary School in Kinango. The first thing I remember asking him was whether he was emulating the great Italian artist. He mentioned that the name came from his dad, who was an artist and painted local wildlife and scenes to sell to the tourists in his shop in Ukunda." 

"What I admired about Raphael at that time as well as his intellectual capacity was his honesty," said Paul. "He said that the most difficult moment he had to deal with was when he saw a child selling charcoal in Kinango and not going to school; he had reported it and the child was given free education. In a personal story he had written he mentioned a story about rescuing a child from a house on fire - when I asked about this and whether this had really happened, he admitted that it was not true and he had been told to write this by his teacher - he said he knew at the time that he should not be writing this and felt uncomfortable doing so. I had a feeling then that if we chose him he was going to be a self-driven and principled leader. I am pleased to see that these initial feelings were correct and he has turned into a fine ambassador for the Academy".

After being at the Academy for the last five years, Raphael now feels an even stronger responsibility to give back to his community and society at large. “With this understanding, I believe that the next wave of leaders coming from the Academy will be the foundation of positive change in the world,” says Raphael.

Watch Raphael's story, which is featured on the Aga Khan Development Network: