The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by Kamkwamba William

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by Kamkwamba William

Author:Kamkwamba, William [Kamkwamba, William]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Biography
ISBN: 9780061937699
Goodreads: 6980403
Publisher: HarperCollins e-books
Published: 2000-02-29T00:00:00+00:00

TWO WEEKS AFTER BURYING my dog, Cholera swept the district.

The epidemic had started in November in the southern region near Mwanza. A farmer from that area traveled to a funeral in Kasiya, twenty kilometers from Wimbe, and brought the sickness with him. Within days, a dozen were dead in that village, and hundreds were infected across the district.

Cholera is a terrible way to die. It begins with a horrible stomachache, nausea, and instant weakness. Violent diarrhea then follows, milky and colorless and without any smell. It drains the body of all life and energy, leaving a person so weak he can’t even speak. Without treatment, death comes in six hours. Across Malawi and the rest of Africa, cholera is an unfortunate companion of the rainy seasons. Many villages have poorly built pit latrines, which sometimes flood and pollute the streams and wells where people drink. The blowflies also carry the bacteria after crawling out of latrines and landing on food. And during the famine, people looking for something to eat also became carriers. The cholera would strike them on the road, forcing them to become sick in the bush. Rain, flies, and cockroaches then spread the disease, contaminating the banana peels, tubers, and husks people picked from the ground to eat.

To keep us safe, the clinic in the trading center began giving out free chlorine to treat our drinking water. My mother brought it home one afternoon in a Coca-Cola bottle, and for the rest of the month, our water tasted like metal. We also covered the latrine hole with a broom handle and flat piece of tin, as advised. But once you stepped inside and pulled off the lid, the flies swarmed from the hole like the great plagues of the Bible, smashing into your face and mouth and around your head. It became quite stressful, swatting them and trying to finish your business at the same time. Any traces of diarrhea around the latrine hole would always cause alarm.

Each day, the cholera people walked past our house on their way for treatment, their eyes milky and skin wrinkled from dehydration. I’d watch them from behind the trees until they got close, then run down the trail toward home. But just as they left, the starving people would follow.

Those who died from cholera were soaked in chlorine and buried at night in the graveyard by the Catholic church, usually by the same doctors and staff who’d treated them. To speed the process, two bodies would be placed in the same shallow hole, then quickly covered. No one knows how many were dying across Wimbe. Between hunger and cholera, there were burials every day.


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