Youth in Action

Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Awardee’s Advice on How to Make Social Change

Medical inventor, entrepreneur, youth activist, traditional ballet dancer and full-time student at American National College, one might wonder: is there anything Rakitha Malewana doesn’t do? At merely 22-years-old, the Sri Lankan Malewana has made Asia’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list, developed nano-technologies to control the spread of cancer and HIV/AIDS and built a non-profit organization, Ideanerd, to help advance STEM education in Sri Lanka.

However, Malewana had to overcome many challenges to reach this level of international success. Malewana grew up during Sri Lanka’s most violent civil war, which killed over 100,000 people. As a child, he remembers witnessing “burnt and charcoaled houses [along with] blood rivers and split body pieces.” Eventually, Malewana left school to be home schooled for several years by the “most influential person in [his] life” – his mother, a science teacher.

Today, in between classes, Malewana continues to conduct research and innovate solutions to the spread of cancer and HIV/AIDs at his science and medical research company Hamzter while running his non-profit Ideanerd, which provides high-quality STEM education to youth in rural areas.