Dr. Abdulai Don Dumbuya, simply known as Abs – the Founder of the Dorothy Springer Trust and our Sierra Leone CEO
Video - to follow
Abs was born in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. At the age of five years he contracted polio which left him handicapped, since then he has needed a pair of crutches to move around.
Abs was sent to the Cheshire Home in Freetown where he lived and received primary education. He then went on to study at the Albert Academy and Prince of Wales school. Even now, years later, people remember how little Abdulai never stopped working and learning – spending much of his free time making wire models of cars and buildings.
At the age of 17 years Abs was adopted by the UK family of Mrs Margaret Atkins. Margaret and her family became Abs’ family and she worked tirelessly to secure funding for him to further his education in the UK, seemingly to no avail. However, her mother, Mrs Dorothy Springer secretly sponsored Abs’ A-Levels and Engineering degree. Abs excelled at his studies and went on to gain a PhD from Loughborough University.
Abs took the valuable offer of a job as a Research Engineer and Academy Fellow at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in London, combining his technical skills and business/project management acumen to generate innovative solutions and provide practical advice and services. It was at that time in 2003, when Dorothy, the lady who kindly sponsored his education, passed away. Only at that point did Abs find out about her unconditional generosity.
This discovery touched Abs so much that he decided he had to give something back – and so the long journey started. He returned to his home country of Sierra Leone and saw the extremely poor conditions that many disabled people have to live in. After numerous administrative hoops the Dorothy Springer Trust was registered with the UK Charity Commission in 2007 and officially launched in Freetown and on 9th February 2010 with three scholars being awarded advanced ICT scholarships. Abs still remembers the day clearly:
“The charity awarded educational scholarships to three disabled people at its launch by the Sierra Leone First Lady, Madam Sia Koroma on Tuesday 9th February 2010 at the British Council. The event was an enormous success, with a good turnout from a cross section of Sierra Leoneans, including representatives from disabled organisations, education, banks, the IT industry and faith organisations. There was also a huge amount of media interest including interviews on the BBC World Service ‘Focus on Africa’, UN Radio Tea-break and SLBC TV.”
After taking a one year sabbatical from TRL Abs decided he was more needed in Sierra Leone and decided to leave his job permanently and move to Freetown. He is employed part time at the British High Commission and works tirelessly to further DST. But, as Abs describes himself, he is a workaholic, so there is always something else happening for him.
At present Abs is working with others to ensure, that the Disability Act passed by the Sierra Leone Government in 2010, is implemented and enacted. He is also involved in many other endeavours such as supporting Freetown’s disabled community, promoting Disabled Rights and accepting constant offers to Chair public and private events. Oh, and if that wasn´t enough, Abs has also volunteered to be a Committee member for the construction of a new church in a community to the south of Freetown.