Saturday, January 23, 2010

Alternative Energy at its Best

I just finished reading The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. This is the inspirational story of the 14 year old boy from Malawi who built a windmill from scrap metal and other materials collected from a junkyard in order to provide his family with electricity for lighting and an irrigation pump--and he did it in the middle of a famine! A fabulous story of perseverance, courage and innovation.

The opening line from the book hints at the distance this young man had to travel:

Before I discovered the miracles of science, magic ruled the world.

Nothing came easy. Every step required focused determination and confidence in his own ability to accomplish the goals he set for himself.
(Isn't this smile just fabulous?)

The following clips are a great introduction, (especially his second TED talk) but I highly recommend reading the book. It not only tells of the process William went through to build his windmill (and homemade electrical switch and circuit breaker!) but it also introduces you to the story of Malawi and its struggles under corrupt government.

After he finishes high school at the African Leadership Academy, William will attend college in the US in the fall of this year. He has started a nonprofit organization in order to support projects to improve conditions in his village. You can check it out at

First TED Talk 2007

Second TED Talk 2009

Moving Wind Mills: The William Kamkwamba Story

TV Interview


Sandi Trixx said...

Amazing story. The power of the mind conquering and harnessing nature. I read that his fellow villagers accused him of being a witch or using black magic to create the electricity. This proves that it is philosphy that keeps Africa poor, not "imperialism" or lack of good fortune.

Ray said...

This real-life story continually calls to mind the unforgettable Gilliatt, from Toilers of the Sea.