OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Low Cost Life Hacks Book

Wandering book of simple life hacks to be completed by locals This idea consists of a simple book, which is based on the Brothers Grimm collection of folk tales, and consists of creative solutions to handle life situations. In addition to that, there are lots of blank pages to be filled in by the readers/locals. Life hacks are explained through step-by-step illustrations, visually appropriate for the culture, which makes it authentic and encourages to add own life hacks, to share it with others. People who have lived their whole life there have gained much better insights on how to master life than anyone else outside the country.

Photo of Petrit Kasabaqi
22 14

Written by

Update 01/12/2014:

With the help of the OpenIDEO community we received some insights and help, which could bring the idea further more effectively. 

The content locals fill in to the wandering book could also be used in other media like public art or as inspiration for theatres or similar. The scope of the idea can be expanded to Eastern Congo, where many Community-Based Organizations (CBO) exist. With their help, the wandering book could reach many more people, so the quality of essential life skills could be increased dramatically. This also ensures that the book will be given to other people and not stay at the same house or that other, maybe expensive, mailing services don't have to be involved.

Local printing of the final book (which consists of all the insights gathered in the different wandering books) can also benefit the economy there. Local visual artists, craftsmen, etc. can take care of the visual style of the book, which is then given back to the locals, so every one of them has a book for his/her own.


Original Post

When people grow up, they learn a lot and gain a lot of experience in their local community. Individual citizens of different communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have all come across different situations in life and came up with tricks to handle them more easily. But not everyone has learned the same tricks from their parents across different families, but some insights they gained might be helpful for other people, too. 

If there’s not a lot of money available, human beings come up with simple survival strategies, which make everyday life easier. There’s no need to buy or save money for sophisticated products, because these life hacks can be done with spare parts, waste or other everyday essentials.

Parents in low income communities do not always have the opportunity to flex their creative muscles and create tools out of the resources around them. However, there are many younger and older people who developed methods over time, to make life easier and deal with situations faster and cheaper. They should be given an opportunity to share their insights, but also to learn more from another. The sooner it is passed on to children, the more likely it gets that they incorporate these creative methods of product and material reuse. This gives them the opportunity to develop own methods and adapt more easily to current difficulties in life.

How it works

This idea consists of a simple book, which is based on the Brothers Grimm collection of folk tales, and consists of creative solutions to handle life situations. In addition to that, there are lots of blank pages to be filled in by the readers/locals. Life hacks are explained through step-by-step illustrations, visually appropriate for the culture, which makes it authentic and encourages to add own life hacks, to share it with others. People who have lived their whole life there have gained much better insights on how to master life than anyone else outside the country.

As an example, many of the diseases children and parents come in contact with such as malaria, dengue fever, Chikungunya, yellow fever, etc. are spread by mosquito’s. This increases the infant mortality rate and at times causes parents to become ill which means children have to work and cannot learn. One life hack is the mosquito trap which offers a low cost solution to low income families and helps prevent these diseases from being spread. By reducing the risk of being bitten by mosquitos, families can thrive and children can take advantage of their first five years of life. 

In order to collect as many tricks as possible within the whole country, more than one book could be given to people, who then pass the book on to others after they’ve filled in their own life hacks. Hence, the book passes through many different areas throughout the country and is eventually collected by an organisation to make a more understandable book (organised and graphically well presented) out of it. After some discussion and research we decided that the books pages would be made of Tyvek, a  synthetic woven material that is less expensive than cloth or plastic, but is still incredibly durable, ultra-thin and eco-friendly. Although Tyvek is more expensive than paper or cardboard we thought this would be worth the investment because of the positive externalities it brings, by making the book more durable more people can use it and benefit from it for a longer period of time.

Why do we think it will succeed?

This idea is likely to succeed, because it is very simple to handle, pass on to other people and there’s not much equipment needed, except the book, a local citizen and a pen. Local postal services and a dedicated envelope could be used to send it to other villages. 

Easy-to-understand instructions through illustrations provide an understanding not only for parents who teach it to their children, but also directly for young children. Themes like “create your own toy” make it even better suitable for them. Since the book covers a lot of essential skills in different life situations and for different ages, it could be a life-long companion while growing up.

The materials used in the life hacks are taken from everyday life and can even be found on the streets, by reusing waste like cans, plastic bags, etc.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

The “unfinished, traveling book” and eventually the final version of the book contains many tricks and is created by many people from different communities, which all have developed different ways of handling situations and share them with the whole country. These locals can learn from other experiences and pass it on to their children, which improves the level of life skills for people in the whole country. This gives children a better chance to establish a fruitful, open-minded and creative thinking early on in their lives. An unbiased or one-sided view on the world and the possibilities what they can achieve is also incorporated into their mindset. It benefits parents and their children of low-income cities and villages in DR Congo. The idea is piloted in Buma and Mikondo, which are near the capital but in extreme poverty. Since it’s a book which is passed on from the old to the young, different citizens and communities, it covers a lot of ground. It can then be extended to greater Kinshasa, Kinduti, Kikimi and Kinkaba. These skills will help parents live more productive and healthy lifestyles which would for example help them breastfeed their children and allow children to go to school rather than taking care of their sick parents.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

One prototype could be made adapted to the community locally available and given out to people. After that, using multiple, individually improved prototypes, we could evolve the book and see how it is perceived better and what kind of samples in the book encourage more to participate. One challenge of this is to overcome the fear of drawing or showing your own life hack.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

The most important thing is the support by a well connected organisation like En Avant Les Enfants (EALE), which “caters firstly to children’s most basic needs, supports their education, promotes their family and socio-professional reinsertion with a view to their eventual autonomy.” A reliable postal service, if possible the local Congolese Posts and Telecommunications Corporation, could make it easier and cheap to send the book outside of nearby communities. Support from local artists, for example some teachers at the “Academie de Beaux-Arts de Kinshasa”, could help to adjust the style of the book, and the samples already given, to encourage locals more to add their own experiences. Later on, when the book is filled with new content through the collaboration of locals, this version of the book has to be collected by the responsible organisation and given to local artists/Graphic Designers to organise, visually stylise and finalise the book, which is supposed to be printed cheaply and then given back to the locals as an acknowledgement to their participation. In order to make the first version of the book, it would be helpful if the OpenIDEO community could suggest more useful life hacks suitable for this kind of book. The examples are supposed to inspire locals and communicate clearly how important it is that they add their own experiences to it and share it with one another.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.

22 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Naomi Spence
Team

This is a really cool idea Petrit and team. Maybe you could look into developing your own Grimm brothers type story in which the charchters guide them through lifes challenges. This would allow the children to build a relationship with the charchters hopefully increasing the message of each story of life hack tutorial.

Photo of Daniel Brox
Team

Thanks for the great insight, Naomi. An avatar for the books is indeed a great way to build an emotional connection there.

Photo of Petrit Kasabaqi
Team

Thanks for your helpful suggestion Naomi, I'm suprised creating characters did not come across our minds even though our idea is so heavily inspired by the grimm brothers book. This is why collaboration is so important, one person might see things differently to someone else.

Photo of Uve Kindia
Team

Good concept Petrit, I like the way you’ve encouraged creativity. More over you should look at alternative things that get used daily other than a books. More over you should look at ways of making the book durable due to it being in more than one hand but overall good concept.

Photo of Yee Ting (Christy) Chan
Team

i love this idea,, thinking of how to keep it's sustainable and stop the drawing fading out( you know when you put photo/drawing under the sun, the colours will kind of fade out abit..)

how about using a transparent plastic shield to stick onto the finished pages, like those photo book---- you pill off the transparent plastic sheet, put photo on the the page, and put the transparent plastic sheet as the page was the sticky ..

Photo of Diini Omar
Team

This is wonderful book for children who developing early stage of childhood their life, I also like particular where are lots of blank pages to be filled in by the readers/locals, this will help them to plan well and get more feedback from them. However people who live there all their can guide them how to live their life better.

Photo of Petrit Kasabaqi
Team

Thank you for your encouraging words Omar and sorry for my late reply. We are happy to hear you are as passionate about our idea as we are. Yes your right, the best people to guide others are the locals who are the most knowledgeable and have the most experience when it comes to life hacks.This is why we did not find it befitting to make a book telling them how to use the resources around them (when they have been doing that their whole lives). And this is what inspired us to include the Brothers Grimm element within our idea. With that being said we could contribute some knowledge which may not be known to the locals and which has originated from other places around the globe but could still benefit them.

such as:

pocket chainsaw- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYRaw-V44Xg (this would be useful in the low income communities we are targeting because they are surrounded by rainforest)

10 survival life hacks by the crazy russian hacker - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybyHcWynSx4

Photo of Diini Omar
Team

Thanks, for the reply The idea is absolutely great, however I am more interesting more useful idea that can save live like your idea.

Photo of Diini Omar
Team

Great idea, what if you look for a charity which already working in Congo this idea will be beneficial to the local people.

Photo of Hawanatu Koroma
Team

We spoke to Vava Tampa who is the founder of Save the Congo. It's hard to get in contact with the local people due to trust issues with the local people, government etc... due to the war. Most have evacuated their homes and are running for their lives, the children are not the School. If they have this book it can help educate and help them in their daily struggle

Photo of Guy Viner
Team

Sounds like a fab idea, Petrit. We’d encourage you to try some part of this idea out in order to evolve it effectively and share back your learnings here. Check out our tips on prototyping: http://bit.ly/pr0totype We’re excited about what human centered discoveries you’ll make towards strengthening your idea further!

Photo of Petrit Kasabaqi
Team

thank you for the helpful link Guy and sorry for my late reply. We have already made some prototypes and will look to develop these further by implementing some of the open ideo tips you sent us. Wow! I didn't know there were so many different ways to prototype and that there is so much depth to feedback. We need to get cracking! One statement I particularly agreed with was - "The most important ingredient in a feedback conversation is honesty: people may feel
shy about telling you what they really think of your idea if they know that you are very invested in it." This is one good thing we do at Middlesex, everyone scatters around the room writing other groups feedback anonymously on post it notes and sticking it on their ideas, this way everyone feels more confident and can be more honest.

Photo of Masheyat Chowdhury
Team

Great idea, well done! How would you make the book sustainable? Remember this book will be travelling from one place to another continuously, although it is from recycled paper, you may need to think about a plastic cover of some sort in order for all the users to have the same impact.

Photo of Petrit Kasabaqi
Team

thanks for the feedback Mash, great minds think alike and we were also thinking about how to make the book more sustainable. After some research we decided that the best materials to make the pages out of would be tyvek which is like paper but waterproof and super durable. As for the cover, plastic is a good suggestion, it's lightweight and can also be sourced very cheaply and recycled to make the cover. we were thinking to make it out of timber or plywood, which can also be sourced locally but is more durable. As well as that we think it will make the user want to keep it longer and pass it on to others because usually if something is made of wood it is less likely to be thrown away and is perceived to have more value. what do you think? Again, thanks for your feedback and we will take plastic into consideration.

Photo of Vishagan Baskaramoorthy
Team

Great concept, instead of feeling limited by just the basic resources it becomes an opportunity to encourage creativity. You could look into what things/products people use most in their everyday lives and see if you could come up with life hack designs based on these. Also try to find out what life hacks can and can't be done in relation to the specific environment/areas you have chosen (would you be able to find everything you need for a certain life hack in every area you distribute the book?)

Photo of Tobias Schreier
Team

Hey Vishagan,

thanks for your input! Yes you are right, the life hacks have to be appropriate for the specific country and region, in this case some specific areas of DRC. The sample life hacks contain some waste and everyday products which can be used and easily found, like plastic bags, plastic bottles or cans.
Since the local people there will complete and basically fill in the majority of life hacks and share it with other people, they are going to use local products and tools they usually have available in their community.

Can you think of any life hacks with basic tools as mentioned above?

Thank you!
Tobi

Photo of Vishagan Baskaramoorthy
Team

Decorative displays to hang from the ceiling, made by cutting shapes out of plastic drink bottles and using string? Taking advantage of the curvy shapes that occur when cutting from bottles and also the range of translucent colors they come in could create really interesting designs(especially when light shines through). Or even toys for children such as rockets(most bottle shapes are similar to this) and cars( the caps could be used as wheels). Perhaps there could be a second life hack book more tailored towards the children based on the "create your own toy" theme? Have you considered what other ways these hack could be organized in the books to find certain ones/kinds people may be looking for?

Photo of Sanjali Jain
Team

I like the idea.
But yaeh as Claire said it would be really good to expand this idea into various devices.
Maybe at certain times there could be a competition where kids will use their creativity and will be more motivated to build something new. :)

Photo of Claire Espey
Team

I like the idea! especially that you've defined it in terms of tricks and tips - focusing on resilience and local solutions. Could you scope out options for printing/fabricating the book locally do you think? What about taking this idea to other forms of media once you collect local stories/tips for success - ie. public art, theatre, radio, sms...as these are the most commonly used forms of communication and sources of information for people in DRC...

Photo of Tobias Schreier
Team

This is a great insight, thank you so much! It's definitely possible to bring all the methods and insights we gained through the local community to other media. Do you think universities could be helpful there? After reading through your idea and this feedback, you seem to have a lot of inside knowledge about DRC! We would love to have local designers and artist prepare the final book and if possible other media as you mentioned. Do you have any tip who we could approach?

Thank you very much for your feedback!

Photo of Bidur Gurung
Team

Great work Petrit and the team! Recycling waste and turning into something useful is a great approach to build a healthy community. What can you do to ensure the techniques and knowledge people accquired through this book can be retained without its physical presence? How long can a family keep the book for? What if each family in the community were given a book (paper made) with life hacks and every month they exchange it with other people in the community? Share your life hack diary with other people and get inspired!

Maybe this idea can go on to your Life hack book. Good Luck!
Litre of Light:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-Fpsw_yYPg
http://aliteroflight.org

Photo of Tobias Schreier
Team

Hi Bidur,

the intention for this book is that there are 2 version, 1 incomplete, traveling book and eventually a final version of the book, which is organized by local artists/designers, then printed and given back to the people who contributed to the first, incomplete version. Hence everyone will have a copy of it, which gives them, parents and children, a life-long companion and helpful advice in every situation they may encounter in life.

Thank you for your suggestion, we will have a look into it and we hope to get more ideas from the OpenIDEO a community!

Cheers
Tobi