Learning to Improvise

In Kenya, a lack of resources and money force inventive solutions from people to every day problems. They call it “improvised solutions” in situations where we would spend money to cure it.

Whether it be the forms of transport used by everyday folk, the Matatus or bicycle BodaBoda’s, they have created an inexpensive network to travel long distances and deliver goods.

Boda Boda moving goods

Boda Boda moving goods

Ok – so safety does take a much lower priority but safety is a luxury when you don’t eat if you don’t earn.

For example, how about a pair of flip flops made from an old truck tyre ? Waste gets recycled and a street cobbler earns a few bob.

Tyre Truck Flip Flops

Tyre Truck Flip Flops

I’ve found myself improvising solutions, as necessity really is the mother of invention. Uncomfortable shoes due to a worn lining were improved with some foot shaped inserts cut from an old newspaper. Back home I would be straight to the chemist for some shoe liners costing a fortune. An old washing up bottle with bleach became a “Toilet Duck” allowing me to reach those parts other detergents won’t reach!

When was the last time we, at GSK, forced ourselves into a dark room to improvise a solution using only what we had? It’s the Apollo 13 situation – you’re orbiting the moon, your oxygen purifier is broken and you need a new one or you’ll suffocate. They solved it with materials to hand (and some help from Houston!).

Finally, here’s a great improvisation to creating a birth simulator for midwives to teach them how to deal with birth complications. Save The Children showed me an expensive costume for an actress to simulate the “bump”, baby, blood loss and placenta. It’s called a “Mama Natalie” – there’s even a video on Youtube. This is an expensive tool.

Mama Natalie

Mama Natalie

Or you can do what one Kenyan midwife did and just cut up an old football, use a small pouch for placenta, a red handkerchief and a home made cabbage patch doll and you’re away! Go Man United!   I’ll never look at a football the same way again…..

Kenyan Improvised Solution

home made simulator1 home made simulator2