It's one thing to be a maker in a high-tech culture with easy access to electricity and a variety of new materials at your fingertips, and another thing entirely to become a maker out of sheer necessity, building out of whatever materials are at hand, and that's one reason the story of Dr. Oluyombo Awojobi, a rural doctor in Nigeria, is so inspiring.
Dr. Awojobi runs a medical clinic in Eruwa, Nigeria, which has an unreliable power grid, so in order to maintain his high standards of care without access to a reliable source of electricity or the need to purchase expensive fuel for electrical generators, has been inventing his own hospital equipment from readily available materials.
Among his inventions are a pedal-powered blood centrifuge, a pedal-powered surgical suction pump, a steam boiler built from an old propane tank that is fired with corn cobs, and homemade autoclaves for sterilization (fed by steam from the boiler).
According to PRI, besides being a practical matter, building his own low-tech hospital equipment has another advantage for Awojobi:
“Because I make it, I will know how to mend it. I don't have to depend upon anybody else.”
In addition to being an inventive maker, the doctor is also an inspiring example of seeking a bigger impact for his work, because instead of pursuing patents and profit, he publishes his designs in international medical journals.
Listen to his story here:
If you've got a question or comment for Dr. Awojobi, he's responding in the comments section on the story at PRI.