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Urine Powered Generator:“Hush Them Up! Go Girls, Don’t stop!”

My jubilant mind couldn't resist finding out more, when news broke out that a group of Nigerian school-girls presented a breakthrough urine-powered generator at an innovation fair- Maker Faire Africa, held on the 5th of November 2012 in Lagos, Nigeria.

I began searching the web for related reports, online blogs and newspapers, followed a news documentary aired on Aljazeera as well as news reports on local TV stations and newspapers. I was, however, taken aback and shaken to my wits when I came across some vicious comments made by some Nigerian men and boys.

“Unnecessary and highly embarrassing invention from idle kids. So if we eventually allow women to rule this country this is the kind of thrash they would be feeding us with”.

“Those girls didn't do it, quote me anywhere. They are 14-15 yrs. What do they know about technology…..?”

“What do all these small girls know about generator talk-less of inventing urine powered generator………..”

Now listen attentively....I am not doubting the theory nor the possibility of this invention but that these girls are 14-15 years of age and are Nigerians....It’s either they lied about their age or they are not Nigerians..

“I doubt this story. The mathematics and research that is needed before the design of this generator is too much for these girls, talk more of the construction…….”

The questionable comments above are only a diminutive number of the loads that I came across. I wonder what the intransigents would have said had the feat been credited to boys. I am particularly saddened by the fact that they allowed their typical patriarchal and parochial minds believe that the female gender represented in this case by the girls, could never achieve such outstanding feat.

They would definitely not have been in doubt if the story read…. “Nigerian girls discovered in undercover baby factory/farm” or “Young Nigerian Girls’ arrested for drug trafficking…..”

When Adebola Duro-Aina was asked by an Aljazeera reporter about how she came about the idea, the teenager responded, “I read a story online in July 2012 about nine members of a family who died from a generator's carbon monoxide fumes, and I thought about what I could do to provide a safer alternative source of energy.

When the next academic year began in September 2012, Adebola enlisted three friends - Oluwatoyin Faleke, Eniola Bello and Abiola Akindele, all students between 14 and 15 years old in her science class - to help her find a solution to the problem.

I am stimulated by the motivation of the girls; and of particular interest is that such a life saving and Eco-friendly idea came from a group of educationally empowered girls. If the chauvinists out there think their achievement is not revolutionary, or that the principle adopted by the girls is not novel, then we differ in our verdict.

Girls deserve all the value placed on and all the benefits that boys enjoy: life, health, education, self determination and the right to choose. Education is the magical wand that unleashed the geniuses in the girls; and also gave them courage and confidence to exhibit their intelligence and resourcefulness.

Kofi Anan said, “there is no tool for development more than the education of girls. No other policy is likely to raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, improve nutrition and promote health- including helping to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS’’. Permit me to add “……….and finding solutions to the myriad of environmental challenges plaguing the world”. This was one major reason behind the innovation of the girls!

Though the Nigerian Government has continued to lay emphasis on the vital role that Girl education plays in socio-economic development, a review of Volume One of the progress report of the current administration’s achievement, presented on Education showed that only 1 of the 46 programmes was of direct consequence to Girl-child education.

In my opinion, these efforts are a far cry from what the country needs to meet the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015. Enrollment of girls in schools is still very discouraging and the Nigerian Government cannot continue to pay lip service to Girls’ Education.

I recommend the initiation of direct girl-child education interventions such as the development of a National Strategic Plan for Girl education. Girl child concerns should also be incorporated into national basic education policies and school curriculum; and priority attention should be given to creating awareness on the importance of Girls education.

Just this one last but progressive comment I came across, “Seriously shut the hell up, what do you know about the infinite capability of the human mind? It is capable of doing anything, age, race, gender regardless, the mind is the greatest asset………”

And from me girls, I say “Hush them up! Go Girls, Don’t stop!”

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

Very encouraging news and I am so glad you have defended the girls' effort against male chauvinistic thoughts.

Those comments (I assume made by men) are very disturbing and is reason enough to make ourselves be heard with a vengence. God did not create men and women with a different brain. It's the society that labels it clever and dumb.
History has shown that when women are allowed to participate, things do happen.

I add my voice to yours
“Hush them up! Go Girls, Don’t stop!”

Regards,
Aminah

Salaam
Aminah

Greengirl's picture

Aminah, thanks for echoing......

It is so, so amazing how far some men can go in pulling down anything that's got to do with females. They need orientation and that is why we must continue to speak out and support one another to pull down the walls of patriarchy and prejudice against women and girls.

Many thanks to you for airing your thoughts and hugs too for your solidarity.

Warmly,

Greengirl

Hideko N.'s picture

Greengirl, I awed and shocked

Greengirl, I awed and shocked to know that girls of 14, 15 created urine-powered generator??? That is amazing! How was it developed and what is the mechanism? Get more infor and help them find the funding programs. I can also do research here for funding programs for them. It is wasting time for you to even think over what the Nigerian boys say. They are jealous. It happens here in Japan too among boys and girls. Dont you think so?
Love,
Hideko N.

Greengirl's picture

Hello Hideko

I am not surprised that you are excited and already thinking of how to help out. Together we can discuss how to reach the girls when you are around. We can then take it further from there.

What the Girls did was making hydrogen from urine and then using that hydrogen to make electricity.

According to information made available on the Maker Faire Africa website, the system works like this:

Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen.
The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.
Along the whole way there are one-way valves for security, but let’s be honest that this is something of an explosive device…

You may visit: http://makerfaireafrica.com/2012/11/06/a-urine-powered-generator/.

Nice to hear from you!

Greengirl.

anab87j9's picture

And Hushed them up they did!

I have to say that despite the fact that I was appalled by the chauvinistic comments that were made, I also feel beyond proud of these young women who thought about this eco-friendly way of making a difference in their community. This proves to show that when girls are educated, they are unleashed like you said. I am sure they will do amazing things, and no chauvinist pig will stand in their way!
Thank you for sharing this story, which stands testimony to the power of education in a girl's life.
Much love,

Anab

Greengirl's picture

You got me laughing!

Many thanks to you Anab for making out time to read my post and also give a feed back. I am sure if we continue to speak out and refuse to give in to chauvinistic attitudes and remarks, we can't be stopped. Education is key to liberating our minds and we must lend our support to everything and anything that will promote Girls education. It is the right of girls to be educated and it is one sure tool that can be used to overcome all forms of prejudice against the female gender.

Together, we can!

Greengirl

Sharontina's picture

I too join you in

My Dear Greengirl,

I too join you in hushing them up and be with the girls in their journey and enlightenment and empowerment. It should be their world where no one can stop them. I wish every girl invents her real identity as a girl, as a woman. An invention that women are much more than just mere beings they are the light of the world.

Hugs and love.

Merlin Sharontina

Greengirl's picture

Yes Sharontina

I agree with you all the way and hope too that our voices will give credence to the agitation for Girls education in our societies. Education is empowering and is the right of every girl-child.

Thank you for reaching out as always. Hugs and love to you too.

Greengirl

Maya Norton's picture

I want to learn more! Do you

I want to learn more! Do you mind if I share this post on social media with credit to you?

“Unnecessary and highly embarrassing invention from idle kids. So if we eventually allow women to rule this country this is the kind of thrash they would be feeding us with”.

They should be so lucky to have brilliant young women running the country.

Your writing continues to inspire. Can't wait to read more.

~ Maya

Greengirl's picture

Go Ahead Maya

Yes, I very much agree with you that, "Nigeria should be lucky to have such brilliant and solution oriented girls running the country". You just go ahead and share it with whomsoever you want to, and on which ever platform you chose. It's all about getting the word out there so we can bring about the change we so much believe in and strongly desire.

Thank you so much for your encouragement and continued support.

Greengirl

Stacey Rozen's picture

Go girls go!

Wow worthy story! These girls can hush them up for sure. Your writing was informative as well as humorous. Thank you for making me smile :)

Creatively,
Stacey

Greengirl's picture

Hello Stacey

Thank you so much for reading and giving me a feedback. I am smiling too!

Love,
Greengirl

Thanks for sharing this very interesting story! I love to hear about the successes of young inventors, and it is even more delightful to read about it when it is girls who have to fight against cultural prejudices the whole way and manage to overcome them. How, exactly, do those detractors think the human race moved forward without the brilliant creativity and insights of both women and men? What a great reminder that not only do girls benefit from education, but how much everyone would benefit from some RE-education of those prejudiced opinions. Your story was very interesting and I appreciate the way you framed it in the context of a larger cultural dialogue that needs to take place.

Leslie Stoupas

Greengirl's picture

Dear Leslie

I am elated that you were able to spare time to read the story and also gave me a feed back. Thank you so much too for giving a renewed hope and assurance that I am being heard. What you mentioned with regard to 'how much everyone will benefit from some RE-education' is highly appreciated.

You did very well to have also highlighted the possibilities and or prospects of a larger cultural dialogue that needs to take place.Greengirl is very happy that you found the story interesting!

Very warmly,
Greengirl.

Kate Hartley's picture

YOU are a magic wand!

Oh Greengirl...what a great story...for women and girls everywhere!

This is fantastic: "Education is the magical wand that unleashed the geniuses in the girls; and also gave them courage and confidence to exhibit their intelligence and resourcefulness"

Those three girls are my new heroes.....just after you!
Much as I cringed at the feedback from the chauvinist population, it makes the point all the clearer as to how these young women have risen above the limited thinking that invades their world.

And on a personal note...thank you for describing yourself as a feminist. The older I get, the less I claim the title and it's high time I shined it up and brought it out!

All the best to you....looking forward to more.
Kate

Kate Hartley
"Let Your Life Speak"
www.fullcirclestudio.biz

Greengirl's picture

Oh my God!

Please permit me to call you mama. I am glad you found the post and made out time to read it. Your words are magical and I feel so overwhelmed and honoured! Your comment put me in such high spirit and made me feel like soaring in real time.

With feminist voices like yours, mama, urging me, the girls and all the other wonderful feminists out there, to press on, we are sure to crush the patriarchal systems that have long silenced our unique voices. I am looking out and eager to witness your glowing feminism and would love to learn more about you.

God bless you mama for your magical words!

Greengirl

Kate Hartley's picture

From "Mama"

Oh My Greengirl!

I feel anointed...crowned...as a "mama"! Can I return the gift and call you the same? You touched my heart with those words, thank you!

We have an expression here in the US, when someone is talking about you saying wonderful things, we say your "ears should be burning". Well at this point, yours should be on fire. First, I shared your story with my daughter, Milagros, who is 13. She was adopted at 4 1/2 years old from Panama. She is just now beginning to understand that the advantages that are such a natural part of her life, were hard won....and the struggle continues. Next,you were the subject at dinner tonight with my dear friend. She is a lawyer and has spent most of her life in corporate America. I told her all about you, your work, the article about the girls and the reaction to it. So to date, you have re-christened three feminists...and this after just one essay:)

More to come....

Mama!

Kate Hartley
"Let Your Life Speak"
www.fullcirclestudio.biz

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