Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Quote of the Day: An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail. - - Edwin Land
The picture at right is just one example of how creatively Africans deal with things that break. This is not a disposable society. Here, they fix things that break. I use a complicated CPAP machine to deal with my sleep apnea every night. One night a lightning strike blew it up. I was going to throw it away and use my old back-up machine, and Shaban took it and brought it back in two days fixed and working. The cost, $12 to fix a $1,000 machine. We have fixed pumps, created hand-rails, chairs for small school children with matching desks, and oh so many other things. Once you get it in your head that things you want are up to you to figure out, you can come up with some pretty amazing solutions to problems. My wife has built an incubator to keep a baby warm using hot water in jars that she says she saw somewhere. We may fail a few times, but in the end, we get results. A young boy in Malawi saw a picture of a windmill in a book (he couldn't read) and went home and built one out of stuff lying around and is pumping water and generating electricity for his home. On any day, you can watch mechanics dig a trench to get under a car (no hydraulic lifts here) and will work with sometimes up to five other garages to get the tools they need and occasionally having to make a tool or a part. Even those ubiquitous plastic bags are wadded up, folded together and tied in many ways to make a soccer ball that is tough enough to last for weeks. I was brought up in a home where when things broke, they were thrown away and new ones bought. Here, they save everything, even broken auto parts because they may be able to use them in a new incarnation. It is incredibly freeing, especially since there are few stores that carry things for a Western-based household. I get very angry when I hear people talking about the people here as lazy and dumb. Whoever says that has not lived here or needed something fixed. Why does Christianity work so well here? Tanzanians understand that humans, like other things that break, can be fixed--and Jesus can do it.