The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

We support a young man in Malawi so that he can attend school, etc. I was thrilled, then, to hear about William Kamkwamba.

William Kamkwamba

Check out his website and the just-released book about his incredible project. We need to hear more stories like this.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, Africa, a country plagued by AIDS and poverty. Like most people in his village, his family subsisted on the meager crops they could grow, living without the luxuries—consider necessities in the West—of electricity or running water. Already living on the edge, the situation became dire when, in 2002, Malawi experienced the worst famine in 50 years. Struggling to survive, 14-year-old William was forced to drop out of school because his family could not afford the $80-a-year tuition.

Though he was not in a classroom, William continued to think, learn—and dream. Armed with curiosity, determination, and a library book he discovered in a nearby library, he embarked on a daring plan—to build a windmill that could bring his family the electricity only two percent of Malawians could afford. Using scrap metal, tractor parts, and blue-gum trees, William forged a crude yet working windmill, an unlikely hand-built contraption that would successfully power four light bulbs and two radios in his family’s compound. Soon, news of his invention spread, attracting interest and offers of help from around the world. Not only did William return to school but he and was offered the opportunity to visit wind farms in the United States, much like the ones he hopes to build across Africa.

A moving tale of one boy’s struggle to create a better life, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is William’s amazing story—a journey that offers hope for the lives of other Africans—and the whole world, irrefutably demonstrating that one individual can make a difference.

UPDATE: Listen to Diane Rehm (NPR) interview William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer on her show (aired Oct 1, 2009). William is now a student at the Pan-African Leadership Academy in South Africa and a 2007 TED Global Fellow.

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