A Real Flame That Ignites

Adugna Hirpa
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Talk is cheap when it is before deeds. Blessed are those who use their words only to explain their actions. I believe this is what the young generation of Africa need. Things that are heard after they have been seen practically and ideas that became flesh and proved to help Africa. It is only with the real flame that the youth of Africa will be ignited. Not the fake one. The fake flame creates the illusion of real gas flames, but uses absolutely no flammable products.  The real flame is when light and heat are given off by combustion - in this case it is difficult to remain unburned.

I wish this era to be an era we celebrate practicality. An era of hard work and sacrifice to bring the real flame. There is an African proverb that says “Wisdom is like fire, People take it from others” (DRC). Wisdom, the real fire, creates a movement. Wisdom is knowing when to apply knowledge. Football players are trained to be skilled enough to make any kinds of movements the game demands. The movement could be a tackle, a jump for a header or a shot at goal. But that is not the end of it all, they must do the right thing at the right situation - that is what we call wisdom.  African youth; we are not called to be alphabetic .We need to be a light house for Africa by knowing when to apply our knowledge.

If I have not shared my little experience in putting marks for a better Africa I will be trapped by my very first statement that ‘’Talk is cheap when it is before deeds’’. I work as country coordinator in the Ethiopian Club Foot Program, where we treat poor children born with leg deformity in partnership with 32 Government hospitals. We treat them free of charge. If this deformity is not treated early, it will bring a more serious permanent disability. This causes a reduced standard of living for a family and a burden for the community. In Europe no child is disabled because of Clubfoot. Steven George Gerrard, an English footballer who plays for England and captains Liverpool Football Club, is a good example. In contrast, children suffer from disability in developing nations like Africa. In my country most of the beggars who have leg deformity are from Club foot. We can live with this challenge blaming poverty, rather than exerting a little effort. 

Hence, we decided to tackle one of the contributing factors of the above problem.  We were not ready to tolerate the fact that 1 out 2 parents will be dropped out. This is caused by lack of knowledge about the nearby treatment centers. When they have to travel long distances they can’t afford to complete the treatment, which demands multiple visits to the centers. So I have launched the short SMS mobile short codes. It was advertised by radio and posters. Parents send the initial letter of their region to the short code and there they will get an automatic reply of a list of clinics in that region, with the contact and address details. Because of the intervention, the long distance travelers decreased significantly which decreased the drop out. I was able to present this innovative program in the ISPO 2014 Africa congress held in cape town South Africa under the theme ‘’Creative Solutions for Africa’’.

Here I want to share my little flame to the bright minded African fellows. Yes! No one will come to rescue us .We are the solutions for Africa, Let us do something in every sector we are engaged. Through patience and sacrifice we will start to see change. Once we see the light in the tunnel no one will stop us, and father time will prove us right - that Africa will rise and shine!





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  1. We have been using solutions prescribed from Europe and US to solve African problem that do not fit to the actual context of the region. We have struggled with so many non-sustainable projects all over the continent with little success. Now it is time to solve challenges of Africa through bright and innovate youths of Africa, as you said my dear friend. The continent is blessed with resources as well as bright and energetic youths who know the the context of Africa. So the sustainable and right solution can only come from these innovative youths who knows ins and outs of the continent. God bless you Adugna for your insight and contribution to fight one of the life long health defects. I admire your effort and commitment to bring up healthy and happy youth who will contribute to the economy not become burden, Yes we can make a difference if we all put our valuable knowledge and experience to alleviate which ever challenges we see in our environment. God bless Africa!!

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