Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Galimoto Dream to Reality:Grassroots "Ford" in Tanzania

The most gratifying part of being a writer is to have your books go out into the world and bring back freinds and connections and the unexpected....

I recently recieved an email because someone in Tanzania found my book Galimoto.  He wrote to me  of a young man who lives in Tanzania and made these toy cars from old wires when he was a child.
The young man tells of how, when he built these remarkable scultures, he dreamed of building his own real car one day.

Now like Kondi in the book who sat under the shade of a tree in Malawi and built his Galimoto,  Mr. Ntubanga has set up a welding shop under a tree in Dar es Salaam.  And like Kondi he has followed his dream with determination and perseverance and has created a real working car from scaps of metal and other findings.

According to the email I recieved:  The car has already made its maiden trial “sail-far” safari, on road travelling from Dar es salaam where it was made at a welding workshop under a big tree, to Dodoma-the capital  and back, covering without complication, 450km twice, (thus 900km), on the journey that took 13 hours plus either way..!

Its speed is up to 60km per hour and its fuel consumption is quite economic, only consuming 30litres diesel per one way.

The email also claims this vehicle can do much more than provide transport:

For according to himself, he has done that to fulfil that childhood dream. As a child back in the village of Ng’wang’wita, area of Ng’wangimu, ward of  Nkoma in Bariadi District Shinyanga Region, he used to make toy cars-“galimotos” and thought that when he grows up he will make the real one. He sees this as just the beginning of flowering of his creativity. He plans to make other kinds of devices (implements) to meet the challenge of transportation in general, produces and goods carriage in urban and rural areas, sick people (emergence) carriage in rural areas, water availability - its carriage and storage, irrigation; electricity supply and agricultural agrarian revolution via simple technologies etc. This means that here is a “Tanzanian Thomas Edison” potential too..!
He says his car is multipurpose that, apart from being a 1.3 tonnes “beast of burden” able to carry up to 10 people as a group with their goods, or alternatively transport 1000 litres of water a go, can as well…
(2) Grind /mill maize and other cereals,
(3) Threshing same too,
(4) Extract-squeeze out sunflower oil from sunflower seeds,
(5) Pump water from wells and ponds,
(6)Make mud-made bricks, whether to be sun-dried (adobes) or red clay fire-burnt.  
(7)Be source of (produce) electrical power in the village for computer learning courses right at rural areas…!

With limited formal education, no ability to speak English(the langauge of the educated class in Tanzania) this young man has used his common sense, imagination and sheer grit to make his dream come true.  He has dreams of making a tractor next.  

At this point Mr. Ntubangan has not been able to find any financial backing for his efforts, for more projects.  He clearly has the ability and determination. 

It is my hope that someone who has an interest and the knowledge and the energy to help this man realize his dreams of building more "grassroots" technology to help the people of his country will see this blog.

Please share it, like it and comment and share it again and again...maybe a dream could come true.

To read more about this young man contact me for the complete document.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Getting High is Never Easy

Handies Peak, a 14er in the San Juans of Colorado is the highest I have ever been.  But first you have to get to the trail head.  We stayed in Durango (Downtown Durango Innhttp://www.durangodowntowninn.com/  right on the Animas River, dog friendly and a one block walk to restaurants and shops).

It is about a one hour drive to Silverton through beautiful mountian switchbacks.  This was Labor Day weekend and a few Aspens were already turning Colorado gold.  The temperature was a perfect not too hot, not too cold and the sky turned blue as we climbed out of the clouds and then descended into the funky mining town with more character than most any place I have ever visited(see earlier blog http://karenlynnwilliams.blogspot.com/2012/04/writer-and-her-setting-silverton-co.html).  I would have spent the day drinking at The Avalance Cafe a tiny restaurant ringed in a fence made of old skis and poking in art shops and quirky antique joints or just taking in the ambience of the one horse town but we had work to do.

"I don't want to sound like a wus,"  I told our friend who has hiked several 14ers this year, "but really how bad is the off- roading to get to the trail head?"  I had heard of her other adventures, getting hung up on a rock for example at the edge of a two hundred foot drop when she found herself contemplating leaping out and letting the dogs go.  Obviously she made it through the pass that time.  But that was another story.

We had to go to American Basin and then 4 wheel it for about an hour through Cinnemon Pass.  I admit the sceneray was breathtaking...so was the cliff along which we drove.  I was certain our rear wheels were fishtailing off the edge everytime we made another switchback.  No fear, my husband has added "Oh shit handles"  to our jeep and I had my fist white knuckled around them.  Our little two door vehicle with short wheel base and high clearance did just fine.

There we were parked at the trail head looking up at Handies surrounded by mountain peaks, peaks behind peaks for 180 degrees.  There we were with at least 30 other hikers who had picked the Labor Day weekend for a possible last hike of the season.   There we were with at least 10 hikers who were under the age of well...10, some toddlers in backpacks, some a tad older on their own two feet.  Reena was with us and she had plenty of canine friends too.

This was going to be a cinch.  We were already at about 12000 feet with only 2000 to go.  I figure at 60 I was the oldest one on the mountain that day...it kind of felt like Everest on that fateful climb with all those groups going up at once, too many as it turned out....well at least the image came to mind for me.

The trail began fairly easy, level in fact but quickly turned to up hill scree.  Scree is a good way to sprain an ankle.  I take it slow.  I also have trouble breathing at 12000 feet even though I live in Chinle Arizona at 5500 feet and walk everyday.  Like I said I was the oldest one on the moutain and I suspect everyone else there lived in Durango at at least 6,500 feet.   They all had the advantage.

Steve coached me up..."try taking 60-100 steps and then stop for a breather."

"That's what I've been doing only I shoot for 10 -30 steps."

I was the tail as usual.  More scree, more switchbacks, the air got thinner.

We were about 500 feet from the top.  We had already made it passed the saddle.  "What does it mean if your fingers are tingling?"  I asked Steve.  At first I thought it was from the cold.  It got chilly up there pretty fast.

"You're breathing too much,"  he said.

Really?  I should have been climbing AND holding my breath?  I sat down in hopes that my heart would stop trying to pound it's way out of my chest.  500 feet from the top was fine with me.  I didn't feel the need to make it to the top. (Competition is not my middle name).  It gave the few stragglers who began later than we had plenty of time to pass me.    Those coming down, the ones who had trotted up earlier all declared I was nearly there and wouldn't regret making the summit.   What did they know?  The view from here was just fine.

When my fingers felt better than completely numb I started to the top.  After a 15 minute sit down, the final assent was a peice of cake...well anyway not too bad.  The veiw was worth the brush with death from hypoxia.

We had just enough time for a few photos, some trail mix and suddenly dark gray clouds were threatening rain.(I am the one who looks like she is going to pass out).

The way down was faster with...obviusly less labored breathing and no tingling fingers.  We did get some hail which our friend told us delightedly, "I am so glad you got some weather. Everyone who hikes Handies gets hail."  Right and then it rained.  All that remained was to four wheel out on slick rock and mud.  I could hardly wait.

The Pale Ale at The Avalanche Cafe was the best I've ever had and I really don't even like beer all that much.  Getting high is another thing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Who Remembers Cowboy Small?

Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski.  A classic.

I had my own Cowboy small living with me for ten days. 

Grandson Ethan!  Ride 'em  cowboy!

Cowboy Small...I remember him from my childhood. One of my favorites!  First published in 1949.

Share this post if you remember this book.  Or even if you don't ;-)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Writing A Picture Book is Easy....Not

Just do hours and hours of research for days and days.....

Then you develop a passion...or maybe you already had a passion.  You become more passionate.

You ignore other writing projects...that news article about the bats in school...hmmm that could be fun...who ever heard of a bat day off from school?  Two actually.   OK save that for the next project.

You ignore your family....as much as possible.

(photo by Suchitra Baker)

You do more research and have some fun along the way.  

Then you write ane write and write.....  The you rewrite and rewrite and rewrite....

Then you hope someone will publish it.(You do a lot of hoping, sometimes you cry or scream or yell).

The support of writer friends helps a lot.

This process could take months or years.  

You gotta love this job!