Meet Divin Lionel Dushimimana, the face behind paper charcoal.
The 14-year-old says when he hatched the idea last year it seemed like a joke and a bit childish. At some point, his parents thought it was wastage of time, but he didn’t give up.
He believes that the paper charcoal would help minimize the rate of deforestation since trees continue to be cut for fuel.
Dushimimana, who is a Grade Nine pupil at Green Hills Academy, says what inspired him to think of making paper charcoal is to avoid the carbonmonoxide ordinary charcoal produces, especially if it doesn’t burn completely.
How he makes the charcoal
Dushimimana gets any kind of paper, dips it in water until it is soft then squeezes the water out of it.
He pounds the paper in a mortar to make it softer, and then wraps a small piece of mosquito net around each mound to make a shape of his choice. He then leaves them for two to three days.
Dushimimana explains that the idea came while he was just trying out things.
“I did not read or watch anywhere but a thought came to my mind. I had always thought that if we could use paper for lighting the charcoal stove, then we can make charcoal out of paper,” he says.
However, he is happy that his idea was successful. His charcoal, which he calls ‘whicoal’, lasts longer than ordinary charcoal and never cracks while cooking.
“I gave some charcoal samples to my friends to use at their homes and it worked for them. They appreciated and urged me to make more which gave me motivation to produce more whicoal,” he explains.
Much as it doesn’t cost him any money for now, Dushimimana says he uses a lot of energy especially while pounding the paper.
His wish is to sell the charcoal so that he gets money that would enable him employ workers or buy a machine that would ease the whole process.
Since he studies from Monday to Friday and has homework and other home chores to do, he works on his charcoal only over the weekend.
Despite the fact that his charcoal company hasn’t yet started formal operations, he already has a name for it in “Divin’s whicoal.”
Although his charcoal doesn’t produce a smelly gas while cooking, he wants to do a chemical test to know whether the gas produced is healthy.
Dushimimana calls upon fellow students to explore their talents and always figure out something new and useful. “But most importantly, don’t give up on your dreams.”
According to Israel Oluwaseyi, the dean of student affairs at Green Hills Academy, Dushimimana’s is a great idea for someone at such an age.
He says Dushimimana will motivate other students to be innovative and develop entrepreneurship skills.