Young Nigerian-Irish Trio Designs a Prize-Winning App to Help Those With Dementia


(Photo credit to NPR)


These girls are going places! Three young teenagers have been making headlines for their recent innovation- an app called ‘Memory Haven’ designed to aid those suffering from dementia during a seemingly endless lockdown. The app, which has earned recognition among respectable technology competitions, has already been hailed as a glimmer of light and reliability for those who have grown accustomed to dementia-inflicted suffering. 


The brilliant minds in question belong to three Nigerian-Irish teens- Joy Njekwe, 17, Rachael Akano, 15, and Margaret Akano, 17. In addition to the aforementioned creators, their success was greatly encouraged and nourished by their mentor Evelyn Nomayo. Nomayo, who currently is in the process of earning her PhD. in computer science and statistics, knows all about the necessity of sponsorship and care for women of color in STEM. After witnessing how few opportunities were available for women and people of color in science and math fields specifically, Nomayo founded Phase Innovate to help reach out to the underrepresented minority communities in any of the occupations included in STEM. This is where Njekwe and the Akano sisters come in. Hearing that their mentor’s mother was afflicted with dementia, the teenagers began to code an app that would reduce some of the devastating consequences so trademark of the illness. 


“Our mentor’s mother actually passed away because of dementia,” Rachael Akano explained to the BBC. “So it just seemed right to do an app to help.” Titled ‘Memory Haven’, the app aims to tackle the most depriving symptoms and help users with their speech impairments, loss of memory, and perhaps the most recognizable side effect- loss of recognition abilities. 


This amazing feat of innovation and workmanship (made especially impressive when considering that it was formatted during the COVID-19 pandemic and all communications involving it took place on WhatsApp) did not go unnoticed. While facing a tough competition of 1,500 submissions stemming from 62 countries, Memory Haven still managed to win first place, much to the understandable delight of its creators. 


While the app has yet to hit the market, its future appears to be optimistic. This unmeasurably intelligent and spectacularly bright group of women are living testimony to the fact that women of color, despite the many barriers that exist in their way, will continue to benefit humanity with their creativity and innovative insight.