In last Sunday’s newspaper supplement was an article by Mitch Albom titled The Lost Art of Building With Your Hands . It started with the real life story of William Kamkwamba a Malawian teenager (now 22) who build a wind turbine out of things he found around his impoverished village in Africa to harness wind, to light bulbs and pump water. It was the story of a little boy who decided to fight against all odds using things he had and his two hands to make what he dreamt of a reality.
Kamkwamba lived in a small village Masitala in Malawi, where there was no electricity and most people lived off the farm. His family of 20 members did not have enough to keep him in school and he dropped out. He saw pictures of windmills in an ad and thought one thing that was available in plenty in Masitala was wind and Kamkwamba thought a wind mill would help provide his family with energy. He got a book from the library about windmills and started working on his own wind mill. He raided waste dumps to find his raw materials, an old bicycle rim, PVC pipe, a tractor fan etc… He made his first windmill and managed to power a bulb for his room in 3 months time! His success made people around him more interested in it and with more help he built a couple more wind mills to pump water and light lamps in his village. Now with help from other organizations Kamkwamba has an organization which works for as better life for the people of the region. Kamkwamba has a book out written along with his mentor Ryan Mealor titled “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind”. It can be found here Kamkwamba also has his own website and a couple of talks on TED.com (I have added the links at the bottom of the page. What caught my attention was like Mitch Albom says in his article what Kamkwamba did was use his hands, his imagination and creativity to make something possible ny sheer ingenuity.
Mitch Albom makes us ask ourselves “why we stopped building things?” Why our children are stuck in front of TV’s and Gameboys while their creativity fritters away…
Imagination still is one of the most important facets of childhood… children still draw black and brown flowers, with blue or pink leaves! Which child has not had an imaginary friend? Or the shadows which look like monsters lurking in the backyard? Children always keep on asking why? How? What? All we need to do is keep it going.
Growing up the things we did were numerous, we built small boats with paper, from ice-cream sticks and match boxes. Filled up balloons with Hydrogen using nothing but commonly available aluminum cigarette wrappers, Calcium Carbonate and water! Made model airplanes, planted and tended to our own patches of green, went fishing with handmade fishing rods! Made mud patties and sand castles… Flew kites made out of sticks and news paper… made our own costumes, put up our own plays… remember catching your first fire fly… sitting outside during summer nights silently listening to the sounds of nature watching out for the magic of the fire fly! None of these things required special tools, all one needed was our two hands and imagination! We have even given up on building blocks… These days I feel that there are just too many commercial distractions all around which are easier to follow. It is time to turn the clocks back and give our children back the best gift there is “Their Imagination”
Keep creativity alive! And like William Kamkwambe says “Trust yourself and Believe, whatever happens never give up”
Would love to hear ideas on what one can do with children with what one has around the home readily available, using ones hand and imagination.What is greener way to spend summer than doing something green with your kids! Have Green Summer!!