Wheels that are changing the world
Before Daniel Ouma Odhiambo found his true vocation, the young Kenyan experienced a great deal of frustration and disappointment. He had completed his bachelor's degree in environmental science in Nairobi and then sent job applications to a number of companies and organisations. But he never received any replies. “Here in Kenya, it’s difficult to get a job if you don’t know anyone personally in a company,” explains the 26-year-old. That meant he had to consider an alternative approach.
During his studies, he had taken up inline skating in his spare time. As one job application after another went unanswered, he decided to turn his hobby into a career – and help other people at the same time. In 2018, he and some friends started a skating club.
Taking young people out of themselves
Since then, he has been coaching children and young people and has been able to make a living out of doing so. Parents from well-off families pay the instructors to teach their children how to skate. Young people from the slums of Nairobi can take part free of charge – that is a priority for Odhiambo and his friends. “I grew up on the outskirts of a slum myself and I know what it’s like there,” explains Odhiambo. Many children and young people are bored, he says, they do not have a proper job and are then tempted to take drugs. “So, we invite them to skate with us to take them out of themselves.” Skating acts as a unifying element.
Odhiambo also regularly visits institutions for orphans and disadvantaged children in order to tell them about his passion and brighten their day. “They are always so happy when we visit them and are then very motivated to keep practising,” he explains.
“Focused on pursuing goals”
He has since found nine fellow skaters to help him coach the youngsters. They usually meet in car parks, where they set out small cones to make a skating course and then glide over the tarmac. Skating became Odhiambo’s great passion when he began doing it as a student. “You are constantly meeting new people, and skating provides orientation,” he says. It distracts the youngsters from their day-to-day challenges and gives them an outlet for their high spirits. What’s more, Odhiambo’s example shows that you can earn money through a hobby if you are focused on pursuing your goal.
Odhiambo also aims to keep on developing himself, and this includes learning a new language. That is why he has been going to the Goethe-Institut in Nairobi for the past two years to participate in German lessons. “Learning another language opens the door to another world,” says Odhiambo. “It helps you to establish contact with people from other countries and get to know other cultures.” He is now able to chat online with German-speaking skaters about their tricks. “I also hope that I’ll be able to meet them one day at an international competition so we can share ideas in person.”
At some point, Odhiambo plans to extend his skating concept to other African countries, where he will show people that it is possible to earn money this way and do something positive. “I hope that this will enable me to inspire others.”