Hope Emmanuel Frank, 15, better known at home as Idorenyin has been building miniature machines from when he was in primary five using scraps and discarded materials. His creations are garnering him fame but his dreams are growing bigger, as big as the machines he hopes to build when he grows up.
The Ibibio word Idorenyin translates as hope in English. In Uyo town, in the heart of Ibibio country, a certain boy named Idonrenyin is practically living his name, giving his family hope that he might just be on to something great.
Idorenyin has a knack for creating things out of waste or discarded materials, a feat that has filled his family with optimism that he could gain recognition and maybe even a scholarship to continue “constructing things.”
The only son of a petty trader mother and a father who has been bedridden for a while, Hope Emmanuel Frank, or Idorenyin, as he is known and called by his family and neighbours, is a 15-year-old student of Technical College, Ewet, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
His popularity has grown, no small thanks to his use of scraps or discarded materials like cardboard, syringes, intravenous tubes, batteries etc., to construct miniature machines.
He has made tippers, excavators, graders, rollers, speedboats, drones, pop corn machines and a helicopter that can fly with a wireless remote, among other things. All of these from scratch, without assistance or supervision of anyone.
His grandfather, Mr Peter James Udofia attests that Idorenyin is now sought after because of his talent, especially after being featured by the BBC.
Idorenyin said he started constructing his little machines from when he was in primary five and has improved on his works over the years.
“This is about 5 years now since I started constructing these things,” he said. “My mum told me that I started constructing things from when I was very little. I have so far built a speed boat and when I tested it on water, it worked but it was stolen. I have built a grader but I am yet to complete it because I don’t have the materials to complete it.”
Though he would later be admitted into a technical school, Idorenyin’s talent and abilities are all self-taught.
“I have made a helicopter that can fly with a wireless remote, and a drone. I have also built a roller and made a popcorn machine. This is an excavator made by me. I started this excavator one year ago and it is the biggest. This excavator can work but for now, I have not connected the hose,” Idorenyin said as he showed off how the machine works.
His grandfather recognized that there was something special about Idorenyin and gave him a ‘workshop’ to turn his ideas into reality. This workshop is the veranda of a little house in front of his grandfather’s residence.
Overlooking a farm, the ambience of Idorenyin’s workshop is serene and helps him turn his ideas into reality, as well as keep his constructions out of preying eyes and thieves, who have in the past, stolen some of his works.
“Some of the things I made were stolen because I did not have a proper place to keep them, so my grandfather gave me a workshop. But If there are no materials to work with, what would I do?”
Those thefts have never put him off the belief that his works will one day speak for him where it would matter the most.
He is bubbling with ideas on what to construct and has dabbled into modelling houses and more little machines. His only limitation has been funding.
On occasions after exhibiting his works to an audience, Idorenyin is gifted money by well-wishers. He uses the money to buy materials for his works and acquire knowledge on how best to improve his works.
He told Daily Trust that he uses the internet to find new ideas on how to make his machines work better but some of the materials needed for his works are not always easily available in Nigeria. Often he cannot afford them.
“Sometimes I am thinking of how to get money to buy materials I need for my constructions. There was a time my mum had no money, so I had to support myself. People who see me in the street when I display what I have constructed, appreciate me,” he said.
“I want to make my work professional so I need wireless remote, DC motors, sensor board, and a receiver for the excavator and grader I am making. Some of the DC motors I need are not found in Nigeria, so I have to import them. I have the link to import them which I got by googling for them with my phone. I was told to create an account but I need money to do that.”
Though Idorenyin has been fortunate to meet with Akwa Ibom state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, who was thrilled with his constructions and encouraged him, he said the government is yet to respond to his request for assistance.
“Some people in government know what I am doing but I need someone to guide me. I met Governor Udom Emmanuel on May 27th, 2019. I also met him at the mechanic village and talked to him and he told me to keep it up,” he said.
The 15-year-old is also hoping to get a scholarship to a higher institution where he could be trained further.
“My mum is my sponsor in school because my dad is sick. My grandfather also supports me and sometimes I make use of my savings from gifts people give me, my transport fares to school and money I get when I use to sell some of my works. But I don’t sell them anymore because if I sell them, it is as if I am selling my talents.”
His grandfather, Mr Udofia, is optimistic. “Idorenyin is my son’s son, and I have been supporting him. The things he creates are his own God-given talent; nobody taught him.”
He is also proud how his grandson is combining his studies with his talent.
“What he is doing does not disturb his schooling because he carries out his constructions after he returns from school,” he said. “School closes by 2pm, so it does not disturb him or his performance in school.”
For Mr. Udofia is keen on his grandson going to school for his future even though his exhibitions sometimes fetch him some money.
“When he takes his works outside and begins to operate them, people gather to watch him and give him money such that he makes between N10,000 and N15,000. Please tell him to go to school continuously because his father is sick,” he said.
While Idorenyin continues to grow, he recognizes that there are other friends who are also into constructing miniature machines, he is keen on protecting his works from being stolen. He also does not sell them anymore because he is keen to protect his intellectual property. His hope is to grow and for the machines he builds to grow with him.