Inspirational Story: Liberia Innovator Reuben Murray
By T Mark Korpu
The COVID-19 crisis is having a significant impact on millions of people worldwide. The country of Liberia in West Africa is no exception, having recorded over 800 cases of infection and 41 deaths in Monrovia alone since March. Some cities with high cases were subject to lockdown and curfews to limit the spread of the virus.
Amidst these difficult circumstances, individuals like Mr. Reuben Murray are making positive efforts to halt the spread of the virus. Reuben, a young Liberian social entrepreneur and CEO of “Liberia Advanced Technology Designs” has engineered an automatic handwashing machine built with locally sourced components.
The regular washing of hands with soap under running water, as well as the application of hand sanitizers, are key steps recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
Reuben was motivated to create his automatic handwashing machine in order to avoid contamination by turning on and off the faucet:
“One who has contaminated their hands touches the faucet, and when another person goes and touches it, it will be a cause of the spread of the virus.”
Reuben and his team worked quickly to gather all the necessary tools and equipment, using local and recycled materials to develop a prototype for his handwashing machine in just over two weeks.
Though deeply passionate about finding solutions to help his community, the lack of financial support made it difficult to mass-produce his prototype. “One of the biggest challenges was not having support. Nobody wants to support you, you are using your own cash to buy the things that you want to use to do your experiment.”
Despite the challenges, Reuben and his team continue to make improvements to his invention. They are currently developing a more energy-efficient model that can run autonomously for a 24-hour period. This version will also have an alarm that will sound to indicate when the water tank is low as well as a motion sensor that will play a message inviting passersby to stop and wash their hands.
Reuben’s unfailing motivation is driven by his sense of responsibility to use his skills to improve his country.
“Especially when I see something affecting them, it is my idea to fight against it by putting a new electronic device together to solve their problem.”
When asked what advice he would give the future generation of Liberians, Reuben responded without hesitation:
“Don’t give up! You have the talent. Your talent is your future. No matter the temptations, you have to be focused.”