Moving to a country that has 11 national languages and not being able to speak one of them is an unnerving experience. This was Steve’s experience when he moved to Cape Town for the first time. Not only could he not speak the languages, but he was unable to practice as a doctor any longer. Undaunted, Steve took the challenge as an opportunity and after lessons from Scalabrini English School he began teaching the beginners English classes – with dreams of creating his own medical research app bubbling to the foreground.
Armed with a dream, Steve left everything behind and moved to Cape Town. A medical doctor in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he was left with few options. Moving to South Africa however, meant that he was no longer able to be a practicing doctor because of the level of English required – Steve spoke no English, but his dream of creating a medical research app armoured him with ambition.
Living in DRC and trying to bring his medical app to life was riddled with barriers. Steve reflects on the problems faced by the DRC and the problems that he faced personally; “we are not connected to the world and people don’t trust us because it’s a country with many different problems…Medicine is research, the people who find the diseases find the medicine, but for us (DRC) we are still in the same place.” The idea behind Steve’s app is to allow doctors and medical professionals across the world to communicate easily.
“We are all humans; we all have the same diseases. I want to create something where you can speak to people and everyone can have access to good medical advice and eventually medicine.”
“Share research and share ideas” – this is the basis of the app. Due to conflict or lack of infrastructure, medicine and health care are inaccessible in many parts of the world. “We are all humans; we all have the same diseases. I want to create something where you can speak to people and everyone can have access to good medical advice and eventually medicine.”
In the Scalabrini melting pot
Being a part of Scalabrini has presented Steve with opportunities to interact with different people and gain insight into ideas and dreams from around the world. “I’ve never met an Egyptian, a Somalian or a Libyan, but I have here in South Africa – especially at Scalabrini. It is wonderful. They are very smart, they have big dreams and different objectives, but maybe in their countries they don’t have the opportunity to show what they can do in the world.”
From French speaker to English teacher
Before being able to springboard the app idea and gain insight into other people’s thoughts, Steve needed to learn English. “I came from a French speaking country to a country where people speak English. It wasn’t easy for me – I spoke no English when I arrived.” Learning to speak English was not a smooth road, but this did little to deter Steve. “I did my best and today I am happy to teach the newcomers at Scalabrini English School. People say I am a quiet person, but I am focused on my goal. Life is too short, and I have a big dream. It is not just for my country or for Africa, but for the world. The first step is communicating and getting people on board.”