William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misalacrazybut William was determined to show them what a little grit and ingenuity could do.
Enchanted by the workings of electricity as a boy, William had a goal to study science in Malawi's top boarding schools. But in 2002, his country was stricken with a famine that left his family's farm devastated and his parents destitute. Unable to pay the eighty-dollar-a-year tuition for his education, William was forced to drop out and help his family forage for food as thousands across the country starved and died.
Yet William refused to let go of his dreams. With nothing more than a fistful of cornmeal in his stomach, a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks, and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to bring his family a set of luxuries that only two percent of Malawians could afford and what the West considers a necessityelectricity and running water. Using scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves, William forged a crude yet operable windmill, an unlikely contraption and small miracle that eventually powered four lights, complete with homemade switches and a circuit breaker made from nails and wire. A second machine turned a water pump that could battle the drought and famine that loomed with every season.
Soon, news of William's magetsi a mphepohis "electric wind"spread beyond the borders of his home, and the boy who was once called crazy became an inspiration to those around the world.
Here is the remarkable story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual's ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him.
William Kamkwamba's story is important, sad and beautiful. Despite the degradation of his and his people's suffering, his story reminds us - especially those of us in the West whose intellectual and physical appetites have been deadened by plenty - that being human is a constant striving for the possible and the wonderful. (Reviewed by Jo Perry).
Starred Review. This exquisite tale strips life down to its barest essentials, and once there finds reason for hopes and dreams...
Al Gore, former Vice President and Nobel Laureate
William Kamkwamba's achievements with wind energy should serve as a model of what one person, with an inspired idea, can do to tackle the crisis we face. His book tells a moving and exciting story.
Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein and Benjamin Franklin
This is an amazing, inspiring and heartwarming story! It's about harnessing the power not just of the wind, but of imagination and ingenuity. Those are the most important forces we have for saving our planet. William Kamkwamba is a hero for our age.
Chris Anderson, TED Curator
I first met William on stage at TED.... His story, told in just a couple of minutes, was both astonishing and exhilarating. This book proves what those few minutes hinted at: a remarkable individual capable of inspiring many to take their future into their own hands.
Ethan Zuckerman, cofounder, Global Voices
I was moved first to laughter, and then to tears by William's explanation of how he turned some PVC pipe, a broken bicycle and some long wooden poles into a machine capable of generating sufficient current to power lights and a radio in his parents' house.
Seth Godin, author of Tribes
A moving, touching, important story. One more reminder of how small the world is and how powerful the human spirit can be.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by aishu The book I loved The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a very inspiring story which makes us think about the innovative ideas of the future generation. it not only says says about the difficulties of a boy who wants to achieve his dream of living a luxurious life but... Read More
Rated of 5
by Alice Love the book This book really left an impression on me. In the beginning I thought it would be boring but I really got into it. With all William went through, I felt for him. One day when I went to eat lunch and saw my friend throw out food because she didn't... Read More
Moving Windmills Project
Inspired by William Kamkwamba's story, the Moving Windmills Project was founded in 2008 to support rural economic development and education projects in Malawi. The nonprofit group works with local leaders to provide food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, health, education and community-building.
Completed projects include:
wind and solar power for village homes
re-roofing village homes
protection from rain and fire
water sanitation and hygiene education
anti-malarial bed-net distribution
warmth and pest protection
a water well and solar-powered water pump
improved food supply with multiple maize crops and vegetable gardens
running water taps free-of-charge for all villagers
improved sanitation and productivity
distribution of fertilizer, urea and seed
uniforms, shoes and equipment for the village soccer...
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The first biography of Clarence Birdseye, the eccentric genius inventor whose fast-freezing process revolutionized the food industry and American agriculture.
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