Biking in the Sky

Innovation is a way of life in Zambia. High rates of poverty, malnutrition, and food insecurity plague the population and hence, people simply use what they have to solve their problems.

There are so many examples of innovation. I’ve seen solar panels held together with clothes pins, I’ve seen water faucets made out of plastic pop bottlenecks. I’ve seen car tires, plastic bags, old scraps of fabric, screws, nails, glass, sticks and wire all used in ingenious ways and all out of necessity. The bicycle pump is no exception.

This bicycle pump resides in a demonstration garden. The garden serves as an example to local farmers and educates them about how to farm their small plots of land to achieve maximum yields in a healthy way.

There is a fish pond in the garden where fish are raised. Above the pond there is a chicken coop built on stilts. In the coop there is a slotted bamboo floor, which allows the chicken droppings to fall into the fish pond below and fertilize the algae, which the fish feed on. Lovely plants oxygenate the water and the fish grow to serve as a food source. Water from the pond irrigates the garden. However, the fish pond is too small to irrigate the entire garden and another water source must be found. In the dry season, water must also be stored.

Filling a reservoir tank with water for use in irrigation is difficult without electricity. The water must be pumped from the ground below into a holding tank high above the garden. Like many things in Zambia, this becomes a very labour intensive process. However, the bicycle pump provides a solution.

Operating the bicycle pump is a precarious. One sits on an old wobbling bicycle seat unsupported by anything else and starts pedaling. You must find balance and you must use your core to hold that balance. Otherwise, you will find yourself toppling down to the hard ground below.

I’ve talked a lot about finding purpose and looking up. I talked about building strength and growing more human. In all of this we must not loose our balance. Else, we’ll find ourselves incapacitated on the ground below.

Fill your tank. Use that core, hold your balance and keep pedaling.

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