The BBC has an excellent story today on the “Wonder Welders” of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The welders are a group of wheelchair-bound men, crippled by polio, who’ve found a new career as metal sculptors, building beautiful animal figures from scrap metal. (BBC has a gallery of their sculptures on their site.) The men are making great salaries by Tanzanian standards, are no longer forced to beg on the streets and, in a handy coincidence, now have the skills to repair their rickety hand-pedal driven wheelchairs. The project owes thanks to Tanzanian businessman Paul Joynson-Hicks, who started the program, and Scottish welder Heather Cumming who’s worked with the men on new welding techniques.
On the subject of welding in Africa: Mike Crawley offers some insights on the challenges of reporting in West Africa with a tale of his ill-fated car trip from Accra to Ouagadougou and back to report on FESPACO. The continuation of his trip ends up relying on the skills of roadside welders and mechanics, and the judicious application of gari, a tasty Ghanaian dish which, evidently, can also serve as tire adhesive. Who knew?
I get so much more out of the Christian Science Monitor’s Africa reporting because Crawley and Abraham McLaughlin blog about their personal experiences living in Africa, as well as writing straight journalistic stories. I really wish more newspapers would encourage their reporters in the field to do the same.