An Environmental Hero: this African boy powered his village by building windmill

Against all odds, which threatened the livelihood of his native African village, this determined teen thirteen-year-old boy came up with an innovative idea that would radically change not only his country but his entire life. William Kamkwamba grew up on his family farm in Malawi, one of the world’s least-developed countries located in southeast Africa.

In 2001, his family suffered from severe famine and at $80 per year, his school fees couldn’t be paid by his family anymore. So, William was forced to drop out of school. Since he was a freshman, he was unable to go to school for five years. Rather than just accepting his fate, he borrowed the 8th-grade textbook from the library called “Using Energy” where he learned about building windmills to create electricity. His main goal was to build the windmill so that he could power his family’s home so they won’t need kerosene that provided a smoky, expensive light when it was dark.

He ran many tests and built several prototypes from old scrap and rubbish he found. His first prototype was using a radio motor out of a broken bicycle frame, pulley, plastic pipe, tractor fan blade, old shock absorber, and blue gum trees. When he hooked the windmill to the car battery, he was able to power four light bulbs and charged the mobile phones of his neighbor. After hooking the windmill to a car battery for storage, William was able to power four light bulbs and charge neighbors’ mobile phones.

When he was 19, he was also invited by TED to talk about his work, watch the talk below:

At age 14, in poverty and famine, a Malawian boy built a windmill to power his family’s home. Now at 22, William Kamkwamba, who speaks at TED, here, for the second time, shares in his own words the moving tale of invention that changed his life”, TED wrote about him.

His story is also being sold through Adult novels and Young Children’s book on websites such as Independent Bookseller, BetterWorldBooks, Powells, Borders, Barnes and Noble and It’s available in the United States. New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and India.

William’s story was also made into a Netflix original film titled ‘The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind’ which debuted just this year. Doctor Strange’s Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in the film, here’s the official trailer:

An environmental hero at such a young age, he was against several odds but he still persevered by creating an unconventional way of his uplifting his family and village from famine. Haven’t had seen the computer for most of his life, he wanted his invention to make lives better and he succeeded in doing this by reading a book he borrowed. Today, William Kamkwamba a 22-year-old pioneer who studies at the African Leadership Academy, an elite South African school for young leaders.

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